Japa: No laws preventing Nigerians from leaving – Babandede, ex-immigration CG

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Muhammad Babandede, a former Controller-General of the Nigerian Immigration Service, has stated that the country does not have laws in place to prevent people from leaving the country, which has led to an increase in illegal migration as well as trafficking.

According to him, it would be possible to put a stop to the trend if there were good leaders who were committed to doing good for the people.

While emphasising the necessity for the media, civil society, and law enforcement agencies to make sure that they work together to combat the crime, he stated that there is no law in Nigeria that can prevent anyone from living in the country.

These remarks were made by Babandede during a one-day national learning, experience sharing, and policy brief dissemination event that took place in Abuja and focused on the prevention of human trafficking and unsafe migration.

The event, which was held as part of a project with the following title: “Scaling up prevention of human trafficking and unsafe migration through traditional and new approach,” was organised by the Women’s Aid Collective with the support of the Swiss government, and it was managed by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

He stated that “good governance is a major issue, and it is not only a matter of criminality when it comes to trafficking.” When we first started NAPTIP, my then-young daughter, who is now a mother herself, used to ask me whether or not they attempted to transport people from London to Nigeria. This is something I still remember.

“And that was a very important question for me because something like that never occurs. If we continue to have leaders who are dedicated to doing good for the people, I have no doubt that trafficking will decrease in Nigeria. I believe this to be the case.

There are no laws in Nigeria that prevent people from leaving the country. There are some countries in the world that are particularly strict, and their citizens are required to obtain what are known as exit visas before they are allowed to leave the country. However, Nigeria does not require its citizens to obtain an exit visa before leaving the country. This means that any immigration officer or law enforcement officer stationed at the country’s borders is required to allow anyone who is in possession of a visa to leave the country.

Josiah Emerole, who is the Director of Intelligence and Public Enlightenment at the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, stated that between January and May of 2023, approximately 32 people were convicted of various crimes related to human trafficking.

According to him, migration should take place on a consistent basis and should be safer for everyone. Furthermore, he believes that the international community should negotiate the peaceful transfer of labour.

He stated that all available resources should be utilised in order to put a stop to illegal migration as well as human trafficking. He went on to say that criminal elements were taking advantage of the desperation of Nigerians to leave the country.

When Emerole was asked about the volume of illegal migration in Nigeria, he responded by saying, “When you talk about the volume of illegal migration in Nigeria, if anybody tells you that there is genuine data, the person will be lying to you because irregular migration and trafficking are both covert crimes.” This indicates that you might not be aware of them at the time that they are occurring.

“However, over the course of its existence, the Nigerian Anti-Piracy and Trafficking Intervention Programme (NAPTIP) has been responsible for the rescue of over 19,000 Nigerians. We have also prevented a large number of people from undertaking this risky journey, and several of these individuals have been brought to justice. Only in this year, between January and the present, approximately 32 people have been found guilty.

Emerole claimed that the prosecution of suspects frequently encountered roadblocks due to the unwillingness of the victims to come forward with their stories.

Prof. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, the Executive Director of WACOL, has expressed concern over the fact that one out of every four people who are trafficked in Africa is a Nigerian. She also noted that Nigeria is not doing enough in terms of prevention.

She claims that Nigeria is severely impacted by human trafficking in all three of its forms: as a source country, a transit country, and a destination country.

She stated, “I believe that we are not doing nearly enough prevention because prevention is the key to curbing human trafficking and also addressing the root causes because if you look at the push and pull factors, you will find that poverty, youth unemployment, security issues, inequalities, exclusion, conflict, and even corruption, all fuel and exacerbate human trafficking.”

“One out of every four people trafficked in Africa is a Nigerian, and in my role as UN United Nations Special Rapporteur on human trafficking for the past six years, I can’t imagine that in all of the countries I have travelled to, you must find a Nigerian in the trafficked situation.” “One out of every four people trafficked in Africa is a Nigerian.”

“In my opinion, we do have NAPTIP, and the people working there are doing an outstanding job despite the limited funds that are available to them. But I believe that we should increase our efforts, and we should be aware that this is one of the things that gives Nigeria a bad name around the world.

According to Christian Brugger, who serves as the Migration Adviser for the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs Peace and Human Rights Division, the significance of involvement at the community level cannot be emphasised enough.

He stated that the battle against trafficking in persons can only be won by taking a “Whole-of-Society” Approach, and he added that religious and traditional community leaders have a responsibility to take the lead in protecting the members of their community who look up to them.

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