By: Mark Eneng.
Cross River State occupies a strategic position within the territorial enclaves of Nigeria, derived its name from the River which passes through the state. It is a coastal state located in the Niger Delta region, and occupies 20,156 square kilometers. It shares boundaries with Benue State to the north, Ebonyi and Abia States to the west, to the east by Sud-Ouest Province, claimed by both Ambazonia and Cameroon Republic, and to the south by Akwa-Ibom and the Atlantic Ocean.
With a rich historical antecedent, the State became the center of civilization, being the first administrative headquarters of the country.
Created on 27 May 1967 from the former Eastern Region, Nigeria by the General Yakubu Gowon regime, it was became known as Cross River State in the 1976 state creation exercise by the then General Murtala Mohammed regime from South Eastern State and included the present day Akwa Ibom State, which was later carved out from it.
Migration is the movement of people, goods and products from one place to another, especially passing through borders. Most of Nigeria’s borders are freely accessible to all sometimes without adequate checks. This has contributed to the many challenges faced by the Nation and states, resulting in security issues and high crimes.
Although with a single entry and exit route to the capital city of Calabar, there are several other routes of entry through the coastal borders from all the riverine communities. These porous, unmanned and unchecked borders, are a major source of illegal migration to the State. As a result, crime and other deliberate attempts to dent the good image of the State as the cleanest in the Nation, becomes a cause for concern.
There are also several cases of trafficking of persons across, even through the heavily stationed interstate borders and checkpoints, signifying in most cases, complacency and loose guarding by those who have the responsibility to do so.
At some times especially during the period of lockdown, several cases of interception and return of trucks and trailers conveying ramped up humans, were widely reported.
The situation on ground in the metropolis is becoming an eyesore, a confirmation that the State is becoming a dumping ground for all manner of persons; beggars, mentally derailed, scoffers and criminals. Evidence of these are seen especially in Mobil junction around MCC, where beggers would grab your clothes just to beg. A look at these people will confirm that they were smuggled into the State for this lucrative business for them. The beggars, cripples around Watt market, Highway and other locations and even criminals, confirms that there is a need to worry about the safety of our citizens and investors. With these evidenced challenges, it becomes necessary to avert this imminent danger of allowing our state becoming a dumping ground for all manner of persons.
One step that the government of the State has put in place by the Governor Prof Ben Ayade to check this illegal migration, was the creation of the office of Migration Control, where he appointed persons to that office. But how well has that office been managed with the reoccurring issues of interstate, illegal migration and trafficking, calls for a critical look at both the accomplices and culpable aiders who either through their acts of commission or omissions, have allowed all the aforementioned to thrive.
It is now urgently important for Cross River State to tighten the borders both Land and the scattered porous borders in the riverine communities of Creek Town in Odukpani, Ogurude/Eja communities of Obubra and other coastal communities in Ikom, Abi, Akpabuyo, and others.
The Land borders which give access to both interstate and international migrants, must be properly manned by a well empowered Taskforce. An important responsibility such as the implementation of the state’s migration laws Should not be left in the hands of the conventional deployment of men and officers of the forces, but a team of those given legal backing within the State.
If this is not given adequate attention now, soon we will wake up to the influx of Cameronians, Armenians, Nigereans and all the beggers, cripples, scavengers, looters and criminals who roam our streets as is almost the case.
At the moment, these crop of persons are already causing havoc to our once peaceful State, denting and dirtying our clean State. You see them in the market places, major roads and even filling stations and traffic, begging and snatching stuffs from citizens.
The government can utilize the same strategy used during the Covid-19 lockdown, making it statutory. Although there were also cases of bribe collection to allow some people to move about through the blocked roads, it will be far better to have a Task-force team than not having at all.
As Patriots compatriots, we must not wait for only the government to keep the watch, hence the need for all to keep a watch in their neighborhoods to checkmate this menace, therefore this Clarion call.