By Bukola Adetoye
Until recently, the nation’s borders were known to be porous without rigorous check, which made smuggling of migrants very easy.
Not everyone has the requirements to get visas to other countries, and this is the point which the smugglers take advantage of.
The smugglers assure the victims that the visa they could not get at embassies and high commissions, they could get from the back door, and convey them through illegal routes to Europe and other countries.
A Libyan returnee and survivor, Miss Tobi Apata, has become an advocate of sorts, she tells Nigerian youths never to fall into the trap as she came back amputated, she lost her left arm.
She appealed to the Federal Government to provide employment for youths to prevent them from being preys to traffickers.
Miss Abigail Kukumo, an indigene of Osun , who traveled since 2019 could not be traced till now .
Abigail’s family members have remained sad .
However, the appointment of Mr Idris Jere as the Comptroller-General (CG) of the Nigerian Immigration Service (CGIS) made smugglers to “no longer be at ease” due to deployment of skilled personnel to the porous routes.
The Jere-led administration, in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on September 14, 2022, unveiled the Observatory Report on Smuggling of Migrants (SOM).
The report was aimed at unravelling the dynamics of smuggling of migrants activities through and to Nigeria, between 2019 and 2021.
An instructive finding of the research is that 75 per cent of Nigerians say they planned to use Migrant Smugglers or Travel Facilitators, when preparing for their journey as compared to 21 per cent, who said they had not planned to do so.
The Report further indicates that 72 per cent of those surveyed say that someone or something influenced their decision to migrate, while just 9 per cent of that group cited smugglers as the most important influence.
On gender profiling of Migrant Smugglers, the report states that 78 per cent are men, 22 per cent are women .
The NIS MMIA command, Lagos State, under the leadership of Comptroller of Immigration Service (CIS), Mrs Adeola Adesokan, said it had joined in the struggle to address the “monster”.
The NIS MMIA embraced the initiative by organising of a two-day sensitisation programme against smuggling of migrants.
The sensitation programme , which had the theme: “Saying No to Migrants, Smuggling is our Collective Responsibility,” had in attendance school kids, pupils, market women, mothers, traditional rulers, churches, captains of industry, youth corps members, members of diplomatic corps as well as sister agencies, among others.
The sensitisation programme was to educate participants on the implications of smuggling and to prevent others from falling victim.
Adesokan said migrants smuggling exposes Nigeria’s young women and men to modern-day sexual slavery, exploitation, hard drugs and abusive labour.
She promised that the command
would increase its campaigns, summon all techniques against smuggling of migrants and ensure the routes would be miserable for miscreants and traffickers.
She tasked all participants to take the messages to their various communities and sectors to prevent others from falling victim.
Adesokan said she had reasons to cry because of untold hardship smuggled applicants went through, describing it as “horrific”.
She noted that about 2,057 smuggled migrants had been deported through the MMIA since January 2022.
“During the same period, 181 persons consisting of 143 males and 38 females were refused departure due to non-compliance with travelling procedure.
The Assistant Comptroller-General ( ACG ) in charge of Nigerian Immigration Service ( NIS) Ikeja Zone “A” , Lagos, Mr Olakunle Osisanya, described the hardship faced by smuggled migrants traveling illegally overseas as ‘near – to – death’ experience.
He described migrant smuggling as a scourge and a menace that needed to be tackled in the country.
In open commendation to MMIA Command of NIS on the campaign migrant smuggling, Osisanya recalled that Immigration Act of 2015, mentioned smuggling of migrants 52 times.
He said that the world had become a global village, so the need to search for greener pastures, and this requires legitimate means of traveling by prospective travellers.
“‘If 100 people follow the illegal routes and 10 arrive safely, it is a good time miracle, the remaining 90 will never be seen again.
“We don’t get to see the victims mostly after they might have been consumed by wild animals or died from sicknesses or their organs had been harvested, ” he said.
He begged parents to stop pushing their children to smugglers.
Osisanya said that no country is exempted from economic hardship; moreover, America and United Kingdom were not garnished with dollars or pounds.
The Assistant Comptroller -General of Immigration Service (ACGIS) , Mrs E.N Esekaigbe, who is in charge of NIS Migration Directorate, Abuja, charged all anti – migrants smuggling stakeholders to channel all efforts to combat the scourge of smuggling in the country.
Esekaigbe, mmmsaid the scourge affected the social political well-being of the country.
“The migration directorate of NIS in collaboration with some development partners , between Sept. 13 and Nov. 16 had sentised about 17, 611 participants through 816 NIS officers and 11 stakeholder-groups, nine secondary schools, 13 motor parks and 92 representatives of MDAs,” Esekaigbe said.
Mr Smart Adebota a migration expect conceded to NIS struggle on smuggling of migrants saying the youths of the country needed to be hijacked from the smugglers.