Kaduna — The arrest of hundreds of illegal immigrants at a checkpoint manned by soldiers at the outskirts of Kaduna metropolis created tension in the area as residents mistook the aliens for refugees from the troubled Mali.
Sunday Trust gathered that the soldiers manning a checkpoint on Thursday around 11:00pm intercepted three trucks filled with illegal immigrants numbering over 100.
It was gathered that the illegal immigrants who had beaten the checkpoint of the immigration service at the toll gate were intercepted at the checkpoint in Anguwar Kaji, Igabi local government area of Kaduna State.
Residents said, on Friday the soldiers of the one division of the Nigerian Army subjected the illegal immigrants to thorough search and interrogation that lasted the whole day.
"On Thursday night from afar, I sighted them but I was not worried because it was their routine duty to stop and search any suspicious persons passing through the road.
"We became worried when the soldiers held the travellers for many days.
"We were told that they were from Mali," a date-fruits seller close to the checkpoint said.
A trader said the way and manner the soldiers were treating the illegal immigrants made them believe they were from Mali.
"When one of the immigrants called me to buy something while I was going close to them, the soldiers threatened to shoot me.
"The man was tall and black like a Malian," he said. When our correspondent went there yesterday, he saw many trucks near the checkpoints, Women and children were seen under the vehicles.
Contacted on phone, the spokesperson of the one division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna, Colonel Sani Kukasheka said he was not aware of the arrest.
However, when our correspondent contacted the Comptroller of Immigrations Service in Kaduna, Mr Hamman Yerima said soldiers handed over some illegal immigrants to the service.