An alarm has been raised that over 80,000 Nigerians are currently held in forced labour and as sex slaves across the world in countries like Lebanon, Mali, among others across the Middle East.
Disclosing this at plenary in the House of Representatives on Thursday in Abuja was the Chairman, House of Representatives’ Committee on Diaspora, Hon. Tolu Akande-Sadipe, who condemned the complacency of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Labour and Employment, which has subjected young Nigerian girls to modern-day slavery, sexual exploitation and organ harvesting among other ills.
Mrs. Akande-Sadipe also noted that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, under the guise of diplomacy is working towards the release a Lebanese trafficker, Wafic Mohammed Hamze, who was apprehended by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, who is complicit in the trafficking of 16 girls to Lebanon.
She said, “Records show that Wafic Hamza was complicit in the trafficking of 16 girls, 10 of who have been repatriated back to Nigeria, whilst 6 remained stranded in Lebanon. Hamze is currently in custody in Ilorin, Kwara State, awaiting trial for trafficking;g but it appears that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the guise of diplomacy, is working for the release of the said trafficker, without any regard for our citizens’ losses, their repatriation back home and compensation.”
In a release by his media aide, Olamilekan Olusada, the member representing Oluyole federal constituency in the lower chamber of the National Assembly decried the unprecedented rise in the abuse and dehumanization of Nigerians abroad, especially in nations with long history of cordial relationship with Nigeria.
She said, “The current and ongoing sordid dehumanizing treatments foisted on Nigerians abroad, particularly trafficked girls under the cover of foreign domestic staff, has become very disturbing. According to the NAPTIP, in the past one year, there has been an alarming number of daily distress calls from Nigerian women, crying to be rescued due to the inhumane conditions they face in various parts of the Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Oman, Lebanon and Mali, with Lebanon, Oman and Mali being top on the list.”
In a motion she raised as a matter of urgent public importance, Hon. Akande-Sadipe opined that there is a pressing need for parliamentary intervention in the eradication of trafficking in persons, the resultant dehumanizing treatment of Nigerians abroad and the repatriation of our stranded citizens.
She also noted that there are some Nigerian students in Turkey, who want to return home, but cannot afford the cost of the evacuation flight, and as a result are stuck in Turkey, experiencing undue hardship.
Consequent upon all of these, Hon Akande-Sadipe urged the House to compel the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to negotiate affordable evacuation flights for Nigerians in the diaspora; even as she further prayed that the House mandates the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Justice and Labour and Employment, Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS and NAPTIP, to initiate the process of preparing a bilateral labour agreement and Standard Operating Procedure, SOP, for recruitment of Nigerians for unskilled labour employment in foreign lands.
She also called on President Muhammed Buhari to ensure that necessary disciplinary measures are meted on the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige and the Permanent Secretary in the ministry for violating its suspension on the issuance of International Recruiters Licenses, IRL, and issuance of licenses to non-compliant companies.
Stressing that despite that these companies were in violation of the Federal Government’s procurement and service provision procedures and standard requirements, they were excused from the mandatory annual reporting requirements on location and conditions of service of each recruited Nigerian taken abroad, Akande-Sadipe noted that the Ministry of Labour and Employment obstructed the House Committee on Diaspora in its attempt to carry out its official mandate by its refusal to submit documentation and lying under oath.