Saraki, others task world leaders on illegal migration, trafficking in persons

AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD TURKIA

Nigeria has tasked world leaders on the challenges of illegal migration and trafficking in persons, which were threatening to undermine the quest for global peace and development of parts of the world, especially Africa.

Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, who delivered the keynote address at a Roundtable on Migration and Human Trafficking organised by the Red Chamber in Benin City, described the scourge as a silent holocaust ravaging Nigeria and the African continent.

He said the menace needed a global summit as was done for Syria to address its devastating outcomes.

Stakeholders including the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), International Organisation on Immigration (IOM), European Union (EU), rights groups, academics and politicians called for a collective action to curb the menace.

They described illegal migration and trafficking in persons as modern day slavery which has challenged the quest for global peace and failure to address the underdevelopment of some parts of the world.

Saraki lamented the loss of lives in the Mediterranean Sea, adding: “More worrisome is the higher of number of deaths recorded by illegal migrants in the desert, which go unreported.

“That is what brings us today to ancient City of Benin, throne of kings, centre of culture and home to one of the greatest artistic traditions in the world – which gave us the 16th century Mask of Queen Idia, the imperishable icon of FESTAC ‘77.

“That is the Benin we know and revere. Today, however, there is disquiet in the land. But this summit will help to identify how legislation and policy could be brought to bear on addressing the problem.”

Saraki said the irregular migration of Africans to other countries, especially in the Western hemisphere was not new, but had assumed a much more worrying dimension in recent times, adding: “And Nigerians seem to lead the ignominious pack.”

He, however, commended the Federal Government for taking the bold step to repatriate Nigerians who were stranded in Libya

In her presentation, a researcher on migration and human trafficking, Professor Christiana Okojie of the University of Benin, said the $47 million the EU earmarked for Nigeria was not enough compared to the billions of dollars it earmarked to check migration into Turkey and what was being earmarked for Niger.

Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, while welcoming the delegates, said his government has been proactive in dealing with the issues of irregular migration and human trafficking.

Also speaking, Minister of Internal Affairs, Abdulrahman Dambazzau said Edo State was not the only state battling with irregular migration and human trafficking but that Kano State also suffers the same fate.

The EU Ambassador to Nigeria, Ketil Karlsen said in 2017, about 187,000 irregular migrants were registered with Nigeria having 16 per cent of those who were traveling to Libya.

British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Laure Beafils said the British Prime Minister, Theresa May was committed to discussing the issue, adding that the meeting of 52 heads of government of Commonwealth of Nations slated for April would focus on illegal migration and human trafficking.

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