The Speaker of Osun state House of Assembly, Mr Najeem Salaam, has called on the Federal Government to strengthen the Nigeria Immigration Service to be able to effectively combat the increasing menace of human trafficking.
Salaam made this call at a one-day seminar on “Migrant Smuggling and Human Trafficking/Child Labour – Combating the Menace and the Way Forward on Thursday in Osogbo.
He attributed the increasing rate of human trafficking to the shortcomings of the government, over-ambition of the youths and get-rich-quick syndrome ravaging the society.
The speaker, therefore, urged that the Immigration Service be fully equipped with the latest technology that could be used to combat human trafficking.
Salaam, who was the chairman of the occasion, also urged the government to strengthen the manpower of the service by recruiting enough staff to adequately police the nation’s borders.
“It is a statement of fact that we have laws and international protocols to combat crime.
“But the migrant smuggling network appears to be so powerful that agencies are being compromised to look away and this is one factor that must be properly diagnosed and tackled.
“It is obvious that the dearth of inspiring leadership that offers hope for the youths and envisioning future for the country serves as the bedrock of migrant smuggling.
“It is also the way to reverse to the ugly trend of human trafficking and child labour is to have leadership recruitment exercise that would guarantee the best team emerge for the task,” he said.
In an address, the Comptroller of Immigration, Oyo State Command of Immigration, Mrs Victoria Isangedighi, urged government apparatuses and parents to be vigilant.
Isangedighi said that as much as the Service was making frantic efforts to curb the menace, the traffickers keep devising new ways to beat security agents.
She said that Oyo State Command of the Service rescued 114 victims of child trafficking between January and October this year.
The comptroller said the seminar was organised against the backdrop of the enormity of the crime and the recent discovery of dead bodies of 18 Nigerian girls in an Italian warship in the Mediterranean Sea.
“It is in the realisation of this that the Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service empowered and directed all state commands to vigorously embark on enlightenment campaign against it.
The CG also directed that surveillance and monitoring activities, as well as intelligence gathering, be intensified in order to nip the menace in the bud.
“I can assure you that as a service, we will not relent in our efforts and will continue to synergise and cooperate with other relevant stakeholders since we cannot do it alone,” she said.
Isangedighi noted that, unlike before, the Western Nigerian states have also joined the bandwagon with increasing rate of child trafficking, as young men and ladies struggle to get out of the country at all costs.
She urged Nigerians to embrace the whistleblowing concept by reporting anyone suspected of involving human trafficking, sales of children and other related offences to Immigration Service, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking Persons (NAPTIP) and other security agencies.
The Comptroller General, Immigration Service, Mr Muhammad Babandede, represented by the Assistant Comptroller General, Zone F, Julius Ogwu said the immigration service was collaborating with international organisations to tackle the problem of human trafficking.
He warned those travelling abroad, in search of greener pasture, to avoid desperation.
“There are no jobs in Europe; parents should impress this fact on their children.
“Inhumanity and denigration the illegal immigrants, particularly, blacks are subjected to in foreign lands, is worse than slavery.
“There is dignity in labour and we must avoid the rush for quick money and foreign dollars that do not exist.
“With determination, hard work and prayers, they will make it in Nigeria and can even be better and greater than people like us,” he advised.
The Assistant Director of NAPTIP, Lagos Zonal Command, Mrs Kehinde Akomolafe, expressed concern over the growing rate of human trafficking.
She called on Nigerians to join hands with the security operatives in the fight against human trafficking, noting that parents who send their children to hawk on the streets largely contribute to the crime.
From Adeyinka Aremu, Osogbo