By Lucky Isibor
The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau and the European Union have thrown their weight behind the Edo State government’s efforts at combating the scourge of human trafficking and illegal migration.
At a Senate Round-table on Migration and Human Trafficking held in Benin City, the Edo State Capital, on Monday, Saraki commended the effort of Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, in the fight against the menace.
He said that the effort by the Edo State Government was the beginning of many steps to be taken in halting illegal migration.
He canvassed for renewed efforts in stemming the tide, noting that it was regrettable that youths save funds to leave the country and, in the process, fall prey to predators that sell them as slaves.
Saraki urged stakeholders to join forces to fight the menace, noting, “The government has been doing its best to liberate Nigerians from slave trade in Libya, as many lives have been lost in the cause of irregular migration. The time is apt to end the scourge.”
Noting that the summit is expected to provide direction on how to improve collaborations to tackle human trafficking, he said that some of the resolutions will lead to improved legislation, funding to agencies such as the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and accelerating pending treaties.
In his address, Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, said the incidence of irregular migration and human trafficking has become critical, noting that its magnitude wasn’t fully grasped before.
Obaseki said the Edo government considered the menace at variance to the culture and value of the people, which led to the establishment of the taskforceto handle the issue.
He added that the task force has “worked assiduously to achieve its objectives, as it has coordinated the receipt and reintegration of returnees, led the prosecution of offenders, and managed public perception to tackle stigmatisation.
“Edo State Government under my watch considers modern day slavery, a practice that is at variance with our rich cultures and values.”
Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau, expressed concern over the trend, noting that it was unpalatable for youths to risk their lives across difficult terrains to Europe.
The European Union (EU), Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Ketil Karlsen, said it has recorded no fewer than 10,000 cases of irregular migration within the last two months.
Karlsen said that EU’s illegal migration registration of the 10,000 took place in 2018, as the records were taken between January and February.
He said that in 2017, EU registered about 187,000 cases, while number of deaths registered so far was 411, as against 116 reordered in 2017.
He said that of the figure, Nigeria accounts for about 60 percent, adding that in view of this, there was need to correct the worrisome error.
“What should be of worry and concern was the irregular migration and the conditions the victims were being migrated. We should also look at the causes for such migration,” he said.