Less than a week after the arrest of some suspected terrorists, including a Chadian, in Ijora area of Lagos State, the State Security Service on Tuesday intercepted a truck conveying scores of illegal immigrants into the state and arrested them.
The PUNCH learnt that the arrest took place at the Berger area, which is a boundary spot between Lagos and Ogun states.
According to sources, the SSS arrested the occupants of the vehicle but released those who were later identified as being from northern Nigeria, while the illegal immigrants among them were transferred to the Nigerian Immigration Service.
A source at the NIS, who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, said, “The SSS transferred some suspected illegal immigrants to our custody today (yesterday), most of whom are from Niger Republic.
“Ever since a terror plot was uncovered last week, all security agents in the state have been arresting illegal immigrants and the Lagos borders are of utmost importance now in view of the strategic position of Lagos.”
However, it was learnt on Tuesday that the Malian illegal immigrants might not be deported due to the ongoing crisis in the West African country.
The Comptroller of the NIS, Lagos State Command, Rasheed Odupeyin, told The PUNCH that illegal Malians resident in Nigeria would be handed over to the United Nations Refugee Agency, where they will be registered.
He said while parading 92 suspected illegal aliens in Lagos, “The Malians may not be deported because of the ongoing crisis in their country, so that it will not seem as if we are sending them to their grave. They will be adjudged as refugees.”
A senior immigration officer told our correspondent that as at Tuesday evening, 18 Malians had been transferred to the UNHCR.
Also, our correspondent learnt that policemen had set up a new surveillance team at the Berger area.
A reliable source told our correspondent that the team would begin operation on Wednesday (today).
“The new unit will be different from the checkpoint that used to be there. Our major aim there is to accost suspicious vehicles, especially illegal immigrants”, the source said.
The state Director, SSS, Achu Olayi, confirmed the arrests to our correspondent on the telephone. He said the agency had noticed the influx of illegal immigrants into the state through Berger in recent times.
Meanwhile, the authorities of the Nigerian Army have handed over the terror suspects arrested at Ijora, a suburb of Lagos, on Thursday to the authorities of the SSS in Abuja.
Although, reports from the incident indicated that five of the suspects were arrested in the raid, the security agencies were silent on the number of those handed over to the SSS.
Investigations revealed that the terror suspects, who were rounded up by a team of soldiers under a special military task force in the city, Operation MESA, were immediately flown to Abuja on the directive of the Nigerian Army authorities.