By Our Staff Reporter
Once upon a time in August, 1963 the parliament of the nascent Federal Republic of Nigeria promulgated an act known as the Immigration Act 1963 that birth à formal, Organiséd, regimented Immigration Department as it was known then, the first set of officers were drafted from the Police Force, the assumption was that the organization will enforce laws on Immigration matters to restrict movement into and out the Country using the colonial aliens and Commonwealth citizenship laws and criteria a situation that allows English speaking countries and their subjects to access entry permit into British colonies while those categorized as Aliens will have to be registered to come with Visa and be registered with the nearest aliens office.
Evolution and administrative changes of the Heads of government brought with it a lot of administrative and operational changes in the department, giving rise to change of the Chief Executives of the department from time to time , each change also comes with infusion of new policies and action programs that birthed the passport issuance and administration, Visa issuance, Border patrol, Aliens Control, ECOWAS and African Affairs to take care of ECOWAS members and African nationals, the operation of the department as it was called then covers Airport and Air Border patrol, Marine and Land Border patrol among others.
The Immigration Department has long-standing operations at the Diplomatic and Consular Missions abroad and these assignment helped in shaping the countries Immigration policies on reciprocation, Repatriation, déportation, asylum seeking and Expatriate workforce on employment in Nigeria alongside visa and entry permit policies.
Todays Immigration Service that métamorphosed from à department under the then Ministry of Internal Affairs in October 1992 to Immigration Service under the Ministry of Interior with change of nomenclatures in rank, salaries and official disposition and an exit from civil service structure to a public arm bearing service with regulations common to a uniform and regimented services with recruitment procedures, training and posting as a federal agency covered by Federal laws and the Chief Executive appointed by the Head of government or President.
The Service 16th Comptroller General Muhammad Babandede MFR à man of wide exposure, well travelled and Charismatic, a career officer who has stamped his authority in every office held and left his footprints on sands of time from a Cadet Assistant Superintendent à rank obtained on graduation from the premier Immigration Training School in Kano, Nigeria working closely with the administration at various points and holding the position of Personal Assistant to the Director of Immigration(PADIS) at the service headquarters is rare and a privilege position where he had worked as a personal aide to then Director of Immigration Service, later became an Immigration Attaché to Germany, on return he was a pioneer officer at the newly established Anti-Human Trafficking and Child labour unit at the Service Headquarters the platform that prepared the young Babandede for the task at WOTCLEF, and later NAPTIP where as pioneer staff acted as the Head before a substantive Chief Executive was appointed by the government and he continued as the Director Investigation at NAPTIP.
He returned back to the Nigeria Immigration Service and posted to the Migration unit where he brought his foreign attache experience and contacts to bear attracting many development partners to assist the service in training of staff, supply of logistics and other related accessories and equipments to help build an enviable service, as a passionate personality that many reckon with early at various fora where he was privileged by delegation to deliver position papers on behalf of the service at different times, it earned the service a lot of the privileges and benefits that accrued in the bilateral and multilateral agreements and trainings undertaken by officers and men of the Nigeria Immigration Service as a Comptroller, Assistant Comptroller General and Deputy Comptroller General respectively.
Little wonder when he was appointed as the 16th Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service by President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, it did not take him time to bring his wealth of experience to bear as an acclaimed Migration expert and trainer, resource person on Immigration related topics and Chevening Fellow among other rare attributes, expert in passport administration and processes, well read in History, law Enforcement and Criminal Justice and different level of leadership courses, a personified diplomat with his assignments at the Nigerian Embassy in Bonn and later to the Consulate of Nigeria in Berlin,head of task forces on Combating Trafficking in person and Smuggling of persons, trained at various times in many countries, institutions including UNICEF, UNODC, ILO, FBI as well as Leadership program for policing at Bramshill, UK, various publications in contribution to learning for EUROPOL, INTERPOL, BKA-GERMANY, SWISS POLICE, FIN POLICE, GHANIAN POLICE, UNITED NATIONS OFFICES in New York, Geneva and Vienna and locally at Security Institutions, Military Institutions and Public space, having risen to the peak of his career as the 16th Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service is well deserved and the best thing that has happened to the 57 year old service that never witnessed a Command office of its own, befitting flag accommodation for the Comptroller General, Zonal Coordinators and State Comptrollers and Barracks for middle cadre and other ranks, a transit accommodation of 36 flats for Comptrollers at the Headquarters in Abuja, Fuel filling Station at the Headquarters, state of the art Auditorium to accommodate officers examination hall, events and conferences. Fire fighting station, shopping mall, a gym for the leisure of officers all at the service headquarters, on the field at the border utility operational vehicles deployment, accommodation at the Forward Operation Bases around the country for Border patrol officers manning the Flanks of the countries border, resuscitating the moribund Marine patrols, establishment of well trained, high spirited Rapid Response Squad that are deployed for national emergencies and ad-hoc security and arm support services during crisis period, election monitoring etc.
The World Class Technology Building designed to house all the technologies used and deployed for Immigration and Security services of the Nigeria Immigration Service à hub that will connect all the operational arms of the service Passport, Visa, Migration, Border Management, Investigations, Enforcement and Compliance, Administrative and Human resources management to be connected where necessary to interface with other security and Response Agencies to serve the country at various capacities as the lead agency in Border Security and Migration Management.
Within the period of the appointment of Muhammad Babandede MFR as Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service the service has witnessed an unusual project development in Infrastructures across the country, training and Manpower development for all cadre, logistic supply for Senior management staff at the Service headquarters, Zonal offices and State Commands as service cars for senior officers of the rank Deputy Comptrollers General, Assistant Comptrollers General and Comptrollers of Commands, also Barracks are being erected at the Headquarters to accommodate junior officers working at the Service Headquarters and à befitting accommodation for Deputy Comptrollers General at city centre in Abuja apart the former structures within the Headquarters facility in Abuja.