Nigeria is set to receive equipment from the United States to help secure porous borders under a joint initiative to counter-terrorism, insurgency and piracy in the West African country.
Deputy Coordinator of the US Counter Terrorism Bureau Anne Witkowsky announced the donation of the Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES) following a meeting in Abuja between US, European Union (EU) and Nigerian officials.
Designed in 1997 by the US Department of State under the Terrorist Interdiction Program (TIP), PISCES is a monitoring system which allows countries to improve watch-listing capabilities by providing a main-frame computer system to facilitate immigration processing. It uses various software and hardware including cameras and passport scanners.
Upon delivery, the kits will be allocated to the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS). Interior Minister Abba Moro said the government welcomes the donation of all modern border monitoring technologies and partnerships.
He said the present level of insurgency and terrorism inside the country shows that militants are able to evade traditional border control and are moving around undetected. He appealed to the US to assist more West African nations by donating new border security equipment while seeking ways of ending the deadly Boko Haram insurgency.
“Nigeria today is looked up to by most African countries for leadership. Any threat that undermines the democracy and strength of Nigeria affects all African countries. We welcome this donation as a step that will eliminate, completely, any act of terrorism in the country. Government strongly believes that if dialogue can bring the much needed peace (in Nigeria), then we should go for it,” Moro said.
Witkowsky said the US, which has already sent the PISCES system to Ghana, Chad, Niger, Ghana and Burkina-Faso, is now collecting more than 10 000 finger prints from the West Africa region per week while a major upgrade of the system is being implemented in Ghana.
“We are interested in working with Nigeria to secure the country. When the country is secured, we will also feel secure and Nigeria should know that there are several options available in tackling terrorism. We have been going to several countries, helping to install the finger biometric equal to that of the US. We have fingerprints of over 10 million travellers at the same time in a system.”
EU ambassador to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) David MacRae said that organisation firmly believes that terrorism should be tackled within the ambit of the rule of law. He said: “We welcome recent steps taken (towards peace talks) by government in recent weeks towards addressing insecurity in parts of the north, including the creation of two committees with the mandate to take a holistic look on radicalisation and factors that fuel it. The EU is convinced that a comprehensive approach based on security, good governance, development and improvement of social conditions is key to fighting terrorism and radicalization,” Rae said.
Late last month, the Nigerian Police commemorated 37 years of existence which ended with the unveiling of new equipment, including seven US-made Bell helicopters, 17 Armoured Personnel Carriers (mostly Mamba Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles and variants of the South African-made Springbuck IV APC), 15 Steyr troop carriers and 275 Toyota Hilux patrol vans.
According to DCD Defence, the Nigerian police ordered 8 Springbuck IVs in February this year for use by the police in counter-insurgency operations and all were set for delivery by May. The Nigerian Police Service has more than 40 Springbuck IVs deployed in 34 states across the country.