Those deported, THE PUNCH learnt, were mainly from neighbouring Chad and Niger republics.
Government officials had recently said the activities of the sect had been aided by illegal immigrants from these neighbouring countries.
The Nigerian Immigration Service confirmed the deportation to our correspondent in Abuja on Sunday even as the Service threatened to prosecute the employers of illegal aliens.
It said it had already sent a bill to the National Assembly to amend the Immigration law in order to allow for such prosecutions.
The NIS Public Relations Officer, Mr. Joachim Olumba, confirmed this in a telephone interview with our correspondent on Sunday in Abuja.
According to him, the NIS Bill prescribes prosecution and jail terms for anyone that employs or keeps illegal aliens as house helps, guards, nannies and company workers.
Olumba said, “We have been carrying out quiet arrests of illegal immigrants across the country. I don’t have the exact figure but over 7,000 illegal aliens have been arrested and deported so far.
“You don’t just employ an illegal alien as mai-guard, house help or company employee. All immigrants must be registered and anyone who employs an illegal immigrant will face prosecution and jail terms.
“We presented a review of the NIS Act which reflects the current realities before the Sixth National Assembly but it didn’t pass the Second Reading; we implore the Seventh National Assembly to pass the law without delay.”
Many Nigerians are known to employ undocumented aliens such as Nigeriens, Chadians, Malians and others as security guards and house helps, while many firms have Asians in their employ without documentation.
The NIS spokesman said those deported were mostly Nigeriens and Chadians. Olumba, therefore, urged the National Assembly to pass the bill speedily in view of the security challenges facing the country.
Nigeria had at the Council of Ministers of Economic Community of West African States meeting on February 15, in Abuja, cautioned member states to tighten their borders as Boko Haram had gone international.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Olugbenga Ashiru, who stated this, had noted that the terrorist group had affiliated itself to similar groups in the sub-region.
Ashiru had said, “The need to strengthen our border controls to curtail the inflow of small arms, drug trafficking and terrorist infiltrations has become imperative.
“This is exemplified by the affiliations of Nigerian domestic terrorist group with like-mind groups in the neighbouring countries and beyond.
“In short, Nigeria’s local terrorists are going international. Nigeria quite appreciates the fact that this is of serious concern and challenge to our sub-region.
“It is our responsibility, as member states, to deny these terrorist safe havens in our respective states in order to nip them in the bud. “We must all collectively work together to defeat terrorism within our sub-region so that we can better face the daunting tasks of economic development and migration, for the advantage of our peoples.”
On a recent directive of the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, to hotels to register passports and other travel documents of foreigners lodging in their facilities, the NIS spokesman said that amounted to an infringement on the constitutional role of his agency.
Olumba said, “We view the IG’s statement with utmost concern. Hotels normally furnish us with returns of foreign guests in their facilities and so the directive by the police is unnecessary.
“We cannot take over the job of the police; if a crime is committed by any alien, it is the duty of the police to investigate, but the police cannot take over the registration of illegal aliens which is the exclusive responsibility of the Immigration Service.”
The NIS claimed that it had fully shut the Yobe and Borno states border post to effectively prevent the influx of illegal immigrants.
It also added that its personnel were at alert at other border posts that could be accessed by criminal elements.