…Seeks Collaboration between Legislature, NIS To Curb Human Trafficking

The Lebanese Community in Nigerian has been called upon to stand firm against the maltreatment, injustice and violation of the human rights of a Nigerian based in Lebanon, Temitope Olamide Arowolo, who had been wrongly accused of murder.

The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora, Hon Tolulope Akande-Sadipe, made the call in a statement signed and released by her Special Assistant on Media, Olamilekan Olusada, asking the Nigerian Lebanese community to stop the maltreatment of Ms Ariwolo by her employers.

Thirty-one-year old Ms Ariwolo was assaulted by Mahmoud Zahran, husband of her employer, Feyzeh Diab, on April 25, 2020 at their home in Choueifat, South of Beirut. Ms Ariwolo alleged that Mr Zahran hit her in the mouth, causing serious bleeding, in a video of herself, which revealed the scale of the injury.

But in a twist of fate, Ms Ariwolo has been prevented from being repatriated back to Nigeria and is currently facing murder charge in Lebanon.

Calling on the Lebanese community in Nigeria to do everything possible to put a halt to the victimization of the young lady, who was out to better her life, Hon Akande-Sadipe said, “Your support in any way possible to stop the victimization of this young woman and several others would be most appreciated. We Nigerians are really concerned about Ms. Ariwolo, because in the recent past two other Nigerian women have died in mysterious circumstances in Lebanon.”

The statement further said, “It is very obvious that these are trumped up charges to punish this young woman for taking on her employer and the system in Lebanon. In addition, this is also an attempt by the Lebanese Ambassador in Nigeria to pervert justice, as he has requested that the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, release a Lebanese national on trial for human trafficking in exchange for Ms Ariwolo.”

Querying the rationale behind the refusal of Ms Ariwolo’s employer, who assaulted her, to approve her repatriation and evacuation to Nigeria, Hon. Akande-Sadipe stressed that the Lebanese government must be held responsible for the violation of the young woman, which is in violation of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UDHR.

She said, “To date, the other Nigerian women prevented from boarding have since been released and are awaiting repatriation to Nigeria, whilst Ms. Ariwolo is being held back; and obviously, she cannot afford legal representation. I could therefore, not understand, like everyone else, why the family has prevented her from leaving Lebanon.”

Hon Akande-Sadipe also advocated the freedom of other Nigerians being held in the country, noting that “Lebanese in Nigeria have been very welcome since the arrival of the first Lebanese, Ilyas Al-Khuri, in 1890. Since then, we have co-existed happily for many years with many Lebanese now also Nigerian citizens.”

In a related development, Hon. Akande-Sadipe has also called for a collaborative effort between the legislature and the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS.

Hon Akande-Sadipe made the call during a visit to the Comptroller General of NIS during an oversight visit to the airport, saying, “This visit by the House Committee on Diaspora is aimed at ascertaining the preparedness of the Service to create a congenial environment that will allow quality collaboration among the relevant stakeholders to tackle the menace of illegal trafficking in persons and human organs.

“We all know that no one agency of government can single-handed combat trafficking, knowing that it is a highly organized international crime that preys on Africans severally.”

She revealed that consequent upon the incessant human trafficking incidences being experienced by Nigerians, there is an urgent need for collaboration of all relevant agencies of the nation, adding that this would reduce human trafficking and organ harvesting to its barest minimum, if not eradicate it completely.