From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa

The Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) has appealed for calm from Bayelans as its operatives comb Yenagoa metropolis searching for irregular migrants.

The operation tagged Operation Flush Irregular Migrants in Bayelsa which commenced over the weekend was by the Comptroller-General of NIS, Isah Jere Idris and endorsed by Governor Douye .

Investigations revealed that before the operation, the Comptroller of NIS Bayelsa State Command, Sunday James gave NIS operatives deployed for the operation a Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) warning them against its violation.

The operatives were warned against extortion of irregular migrants, maiming, harassment and shooting to avoid tension.

The SOP also stated that handling of migrants shall be conducted with high level of civility and respect for the fundamental human rights while those identified would be requested to present their travel documents, residence cards/permits.

All irregular migrants would be given the opportunity to shut their residential premises /offices before being taken away and would be given the opportunity to defend themselves during the screening exercise with abundant verifiable evidence.

James in an interview sued for calm, explaining that no tribal group in Nigeria is being targeted in the operation.

He disclosed that NIS intelligence gathering and search-light directed the Command to Nigeriens who because of affinity and the contiguous nature of the borders easily blend with Nigerians claiming states like Sokoto,Kebbi and Kastina.

“An average Nigerien can speak Hausa. You see people claiming they are from Sokoto, Kebbi, Kastina. It is not true that every person claiming to be from these states are from there. Not many people know that it is not everybody they see on the street that is a Hausa person. An average water peddler, cobbler, tea- seller, security guards in various homes and few Keke drivers, people assume they are all Hausas but they are not. And that is why we have to zero down on this specific member of ECOWAS state because they are in the majority of people that easily blend with our people,” he said.

James, while disclosing that the operation is an on-going operation that would be extended to the seven other local governments in the state, hinted that it would also involve expatriates working in the state.

Explaining further that the operation is being carried out in national interest, he insisted that the NIS is doing its best with the aid of technology which is the best in Africa to discharge its responsibilities in the country.

Commenting on the exercise, the Chairman of the Association of Niger Republic Indigenes in Bayelsa State, Yakubu Idris, who commended the NIS for the operation confirmed that three Nigeriens were among those apprehended without proper entry documentation.

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Source: news