From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS),Bayelsa State Command under the supervision of its Comptroller, Sunday James has wrapped up the operation to flush out irregular migrants in the state.
The operation five days operation code-named Operation Saunkan Shano( The Eagle has landed) s arrested 644 suspects for profiling and screening at the Command Headquarters, Bayelsa Palm Road.
James who briefed journalists in his office over the outcome of the operation disclosed that out of the 644 suspects, 106 are foreign nationals who had their travel documents screen in line with ECOWAS protocols.
He gave the breakdown of the foreign nationals as 44 Nigeriens, 35 Togolese, 20 Beninese, six Ghanaians and one Malian.
James while commending the NIS Comptroller-General, Isah Jere Idris for approving the operation and singled out Governor Douye Diri for displaying patriotism by resisting playing politics with the operation and gave it his go-ahead.
He disclosed that areas combed for irregular migrants are Aritellin, Aritellain, Swali market area, Onopa Street, Azikoro, Okaka, Bayelsa Palm, Obogboro, Obele Street, Otiotio by the Express, Biogbolo, Tombia, Famgbe, Ogu and areas we have Bureau De Change.
According to him 84 of those screened had expired documents which has since been perfected by their homes countries embassies while others have assured of the quick issuance of relevant documents to confirm the status of their citizens in Bayelsa in line with ECOWAS protocol.
“We briefed you at the commencement of this operation and now that it is the last day; we need to tell you the result of the operation. We were able to comb major areas we suspected and carried out our intelligence surveillance and gathered enough intelligence. When we carried out operation like this everyone that is suspected is carried that is why we also carried some Nigerians.
“We had our fair fear of challenge; the Hausa community thought they were being targeted even when we were there to talk to them extensively. We made them realize it was targeted at specific people who are neighbours of Nigeria and members of ECOWAS protocol. Even though ECOWAS protocol allows free movement, establishment of business and trade within the member states within a stipulated time. But if you leave beyond 90 days you have to make yourself available.
“We refused deliberately to detain anybody because they are not criminals but only breached immigration rules and regulations, so we are very mindful of the fundamental rights of every person. As since they have their leaders, they came here, we capture their bio data, biometrics and facial looks and we got all the details about them.”