At least 10,000 Nigerians, escaping the misrule back home, have died between January and May 2017 while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea and deserts, the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, has said on Friday.
NIS Assistant Comptroller-General, in charge of training, manpower and development, Mr. Maroof Giwa, disclosed this in Ilorin Kwara State while speaking on the sidelines of a training on ‘trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants at various borders,’ organised by the NIS.
He said that 4,900 Nigerians died in the Mediterranean Sea, on illegal migration, while the rest died trying to go through the deserts in their bid to get to Europe.
Mr. Giwa pointed out that Nigeria is a member of many international instruments and had signed a number of agreements and treaties, particularly regarding trafficking in persons and smuggling of illegal migrants.
As such he explained that it is the obligation for the countries to implement such agreements, saying that illegal migrants and traffickers from Nigeria go through Niger Republic, Mali, Libya and Morocco.
He said, “Smuggling of migrants is taking a front burner in world affairs today. Almost every day, you hear stories of boat capsizing and people trying to reach Europe. Nigerians are dying almost every day.
“This year alone, 4,900 Nigerians died on the Mediterranean route to Europe. There are countless others who died on their way through the deserts; we have even lost count. Many more perished on that route.
“In fact over 10,000 people have died on the Mediterranean route and the deserts. Those who died in the deserts are far more than the dead victims along the Mediterranean route. There is the need to create awareness within our community that going to Europe is not an option, particularly if it is through irregular routes.
“Apart from that, a lot of people are profiting from the venture. Last week, about 4,000 Nigerians were deported from Libya. Those ones were intercepted when they were about to enter the Mediterranean Sea.”
Giwa said NIS has been working towards preventing trafficking as the agency has commenced an initiative through which intending migrants would be stopped even before they set out.
He however lamented the challenge posed by the porous state of Nigerian borders and its rugged terrains. But assured that the agency would deal with the challenges with the use of technology.
Mr Giwa said, “Nigerian borders are very bad. We cannot cover all and the terrains are rugged. The vastness and porosity of the borders are huge challenges. Some borders are designated while some are not designated and so are illegal routes. These traffickers are aware of the illegal routes, so they try to use them.
“In order to have effective surveillance, you need technology. If we have drones that we can use to patrol the borders very well, that will help us a great deal. We used to have air-border patrol but the aircraft has been grounded. It will be resuscitated and the aircraft will soon be put to use.
“Very soon, we will be patrolling the borders by air. That will increase our capability of also fighting terrorism. Most of the terrorist activities take place around the borders. Traffickers should desist as NIS is more prepared to tackle them. We have a new law to deal with smugglers.”
This comes just as NIS Kwara State Comptroller, NIS, Mrs. Abiodun Abimbola-Ojo, said her command has rescued about 36 victims of human trafficking from 2015 till date. The comptroller urged people to assist the NIS in its efforts by providing useful information that would aid the agency to effectively fight human trafficking.
Mrs. Abimbola-Ojo narrated how victims of human trafficking are forced to go through inhuman and dehumanizing conditions.
According to her, some of them ended up contacting infections and dying in the process while some ladies were sexually abused and died from health complications arising from moves to abort unwanted pregnancies.
She therefore pleaded with parents and guardians to dissuade their children and wards from embarking on illegal migration.
Abimbola-Ojo said, “The public should assist us in the job. They should give us information on trafficking and smuggling of persons. Prevention is necessary.
“Smuggling and trafficking are two major things. The major aim of a trafficker is to exploit, but a smuggler wants to exploit just now and go his way. He procures the documents, whether regular or not regular, all he wants is his money.”
Talk, talk and talk, us usual. Here is the truth:
Due to legendary corruption, the Nigerian state has become almost inhabitable for mainstream Nigerians. This is what drives them into taking the deadly risk on embarking on illegal migration through the Sahara desert.
Until those in the corridors of power in the country end their greed – looting of the treasury on an hourly basis – and take measures, with the abundant available resources, to offer a life to Nigerians, the problem of human trafficking can never be solved.