By Tunde Oguntola, Abuja
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) and the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has have called for a halt in all forms of human trafficking and child labour, describing it as evil and illegal.
Speaking during an advocacy visit and town hall meeting at Seme, Nigeria-Benin Republic Border, Lagos State, funded by the European Union (EU), entitled: “Promoting Better Management of Migration in Nigeria by Combating and Reducing Irregular Migration” which occurs, inter alia, through Trafficking in Person (TIP) and Smuggling of Migrants (SOM), the national project officer, UNODC, Mr Sylvester Atere, stressed the need to educate the general public on the dangers of irregular migration, human trafficking and child labour.
He urged Nigerians to report cases bordering on irregular migration, human trafficking and child labour to be reported to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).
Atere maintained that the objectives of the programme include encouraging Nigeria to maximise the potential of migration, considering that the country is opportuned to have a vibrant population with 70 per cent within the range of 40 years.
‘’The desire to see people have informed knowledge to make informed decisions and choices that will deter irregular migration and rather encourage regular migration is the delight of UNODC and EU,’’ he said.
In his address, the Comptroller, NIS, Seme Border Command, Ibrahim Liman, described the programme as vital and would help in improving and facilitating smooth and regular movement of persons along the border.
“Accordingly, the programme is not only relevant but also very timely when viewed against the backdrop of ease of doing business initiatives embarked upon by the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, especially in the area of transparency, synergy and information sharing among the security agencies and other stakeholders,” Liman said.
He expressed belief in the aims and objectives of the programme, saying that it will be achieved.
“The programme’s objectives relate to repositioning and promoting better management of border and migration in Nigeria,” he said.
In his remarks, the Comptroller, Nigeria Customs, Seme Area Command, Abdullahi Mohammed, while identifying porosity of the border as a challenge, sued for provision of logistics to the Command and sister agencies as well as a reward system for diligent officers to enhance their operations in combating not just the smuggling of goods across the border but also persons.
He commended the synergy between sister agencies at the Seme Border, stating that it has gone a long way in enhancing their tedious job of securing the nation’s border from smuggling of migrants, and even goods.
Also speaking, the Unit Commander, Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC), Fatayi Bakare, maintained that enlightenment was ideal in the fight against smuggling of migrants, adding that it would greatly enhance the fight as it would help inform the public about the ills of the practice.
The Comptroller Immigration, Border Patrol, Adediji Abiodum, in his remark lamented that they have been battling with SOM.
He said: “It is germane and there is no better time for this sensitisation than now, but this is not enough; we need to act. Hence, when we get back to our various beats, we need to carry the torch and enlighten more persons because migration is a security issue which is a challenge for all of us.”
In another development, Oba Akran of Badagry Kingdom, HRM De Wheno Aholu Menu Toyi 1, while receiving the UNODC and NIS team who paid a courtesy visit in his palace, assured the team of his assistance in the sensitisation of his people on the dangers of SOM.
He said that it was very important to educate the border community on being properly informed, in order to deter them from the irregular practice.
Also, the Agololo of Badagry, High Chief, Dr Hundogan Samuel reiterated the timeliness of the sensitisation on SOM, especially to the women as many Nigerian women have lost their lives on the journey of no return.
He called on the federal government to do more in developing the country and curtail the irregular migration.