The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the Canadian government has provided 56 Migration Information and Data Analysis System (MIDAS) to the Nigerian government to strengthen border security and management.
The IOM and the Canadian High Commission in Abuja handed over the MIDAS equipment to the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) in a ceremony at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja on Friday.
The 56 MIDAS which would be installed at the two major Nigerian International airports, in 28 in Abuja and 28 to the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos would also be linked to Interpol.
Mr Franz Celestine, IOM Chief of Mission in Nigeria alleged that Nigeria was a source, transit and destination country for migrant smuggling and human trafficking .
Celestine who was represented by Ms Prestage Murima, Programme Development Coordinator, IOM said that to this end, it would important to ensure the operational and investigative capacities of the national law enforcement agencies.
He said that strengthening the country’s air, land and sea borders would help address these and other related challenges.
Giving a brief of the project, Ms Yuki Daizumoto, Programme Coordinator Immigration and Border Management, IOM, said the project applies to a comprehensive approach with three expected outcomes including increased capacity of local migration and border management authorities based on national needs and priorities.
“MIDAS Installation and operationalization at Nigeria’s air borders lead to further availability of biographic and biometric data of travelers entering and exiting the country.
“This system is not stand alone. Data collected by MIDAS is synchronied between 2 airports and the NIS HQ so that NIS can compile all the data and use it for further analysis.
“All travel documents enrolled in MIDAS will be automatically checked against INTERPOL databases and relevant national and international watchlists.
“MIDAS is connected to INTERPOL databases and national and international watchlists to flag suspects of domestic and transnational crimes such as human trafficking, smuggling, terrorism and drug related crimes etc.
“Knowledge and skills of the NIS personnel on MIDAS installation and use and on interview techniques, profiling and identification of migrant smuggling and human trafficking cases are strengthened in line with international standards and good practices.
Mr Ryan Ward, Canada’s Deputy High Commissioner for Nigeria said Canada values its relationship with Nigeria as a trusted strategic partner and top source country of migration to Canada from Africa, and Nigerians are contributing Canada’s economy and our society.
Ward said that to this effect, Canada is committed to working with Nigeria to strengthen its border management and enforcement capabilities.
He said the support of the Canadian government to the project is an outcome of meeting of employees at Global Affairs Canada, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, and the Canada Border Services Agency in July and November 2019.
“During these meetings, there were initial discussions about Canadian cooperation on supporting Nigeria to continue the roll-out of the IOM Migration Information and Data Analysis System, known as MIDAS, at key international border points.
“Nearly a year and a half later, I am incredibly proud to witness the tangible outcome of these talks through the handover of 56 IOM MIDAS units to Nigeria supported by the Government of Canada,” Ward said.
Mr Muhammed Babandede, Comptroller-General of the Immigration Service, assured the Canadian government that the equipment would be used judiciously because a safe border in Nigeria is a safe border for Canada and every other country.
Babandede said that prior to now, the Nigerian government has also taken border security and management as priority and training of NIS personnel also.
He said that on Wednesday, President Muhammadu Buhari approved in Council the completion and equipping of the technology building which was built at the cost of 7.2 billion and furnished and equipped at the cost of 2.4 billion.
Babande said that the commitment from the government of Nigeria indicates that MIDAS will be the key equipment in the technology building.
Mr Mahmud Sani, Regional General Manager at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport said that the installation of the MIDAS in the airport would further enhance the capacity of the airport authority and NIS.
He appreciated the IOM and the Canadian government for their support.