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There is palpable fear among residents of Lagos following the daily influx of undocumented foreigners in the state who are mostly engaged as guards, commercial cyclists following the rising insecurity in the country.
The fear, according to most residents is that they could turn to easy tools in the hands of terrorists.
While employment of foreigners as mai guard is not particularly new in the Lagos metropolis, the large presence of such people, especially in the highbrow areas, is causing anxiety.
Some of the foreigners serve as maids and servants. But because many of them speak passable English or pidgin English, have accent similar to what obtains in some parts of Nigeria, and seem to have assimilated the Nigerian culture, it is sometimes difficult to identify them.
A banker who resides in Egbeda area of Lagos, Jimoh Ibrahim, said he knows a lot of other residents of the area who live in fear on account of the security situation in the country and the vulnerability of the foreigners to be used as tools by terrorists.
He said: “The security situation is worrisome. Imagine employing a security guard that is not a Nigerian and you do not know where he comes from. Government should intervene and we should have their data for records purposes.
Another resident in Ikeja, who preferred to be called Seun, said the foreigners in her area usually start with looking for menial jobs especially at building sites, and once they succeed would move into any uncompleted building they can find around.
He said: “Their numbers continue to swell. Although they are not constituting any nuisance, we need to be careful now in view of what is currently happening in the country. It is very important to know who your neighbour is.”
“The number of these people has increased significantly over the years. If you want to verify my claims, please visit Oregun, Ojodu, Ojota, Ogba, Maryland and Alausa, among others.
A security expert and retired Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Emueze Onyema, called the development a severe security threat.
He believes the porous nature of Nigeria’s borders is largely responsible for the continued influx of foreigners into the country.
“They help them keep the money while the terrorists stay in the forest and continue with the abduction of hapless travellers. Government needs to rise to the occasion.
A retired official of the Department of State Security (DSS) who does not want to be named blamed poor data gathering and lack of willpower by the government to act on credible intelligence on the movement of foreigners as a major challenge to Nigeria’s security.
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