Group Empowers Idiroko Community as Vanguard on Dangers of Irregular Migration

Trafficking is the world’s third most lucrative business in the crime world today, hence the need to advocate and sensitise youths and the general public from falling prey.

Given the recent increase in migration struggle, the Women’s Consortium of Nigeria (WOCON) and National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI) in partnership with International organisation for Migration (IOM) and the European Union (EU) this week organised a two-day policy dialogue between community members, youths and law enforcement agencies in Idiroko, Ogun State, Nigeria, on the new trend in migration and migration policies as developed by the Nigerian government.

The dialogue which is coming after a press conference held in August at Seme was attended by Idiroko community youths who are below the age of 35, Community Development Associations (CDAs) in Ipokia Local Government, traditional rulers, religious leaders, Policemen, members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Civil Service Commission, and Artisans who will later become vanguards in championing the information on migration issues in their communities.

20151012_133157Participants and facilitators at the meeting deliberated on strategies indicated in the National Migration policy, especially on how it can be used to contribute to reduce irregular migration and trafficking in persons in Nigeria, particularly in Ogun State.

The dialogue provided an opportunity to inform youths about the true realities of the situation in Europe and to demystify the perception of youths about the opportunities and job prospects in Europe and that the roads of EU countries are “paved with gold”.

It also marked the take-off of a 6 months project on promoting better management of migration in Nigeria by the IOM. Altogether, 240 community people will be trained across Ajegunle, Seme and Idiroko—the three communities that serve as transit and receiving areas of immigrants from/to other neighboring countries of Nigeria — by sharing information and ideas on how better migration can be promoted in Nigeria, Modalities for identifying potential risks of irregular migration and trafficking.

Speaking on the rationale behind the community sensitization, Mr Kunle Adeogun, who spoke on behalf of the Executive Director of Women’s Consortium of Nigeria (WOCON), Chief ‘Bisi Olateru-Olagbegi, said despite past awareness campaigns, many are still unaware of the crimes that exist in the process of illegal migration.

“We are reaching out with an awareness campaign in the border towns of Seme and Owode Apa in Lagos State, and Idiroko and Ajegunle in Ogun State with a view of preventing irregular migration and trafficking in persons in our society,” he said.

After the workshop, the beneficiaries will be mobilised to develop strategies to prevent irregular migration and Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and will constitute the Task Force Committees/Youth Groups that will monitor the implementation of strategies and keep records of migration trends and incidents in their respective communities.

Some of the participants at the 2-day sensitization workshop on migration trends in Idiroko, Ogun State, Nigeria

Why Local Border Communities are sensitized on Migration Issues

Migration plays an important role in national development. However, it has been mainly influenced by the quest for a better life and if not properly done, it may result in dang of irregular migration leading to a life of slavery, economic loss and sometimes death.

Like in other parts of the world, migration has become one of the major problems facing Nigeria. The growing number of irregular migrants from Nigeria has been fuelled by a large pool of unemployed youth, poverty and distorted information on labour market conditions. This trend is reinforced by the increasing professionalism of traffickers and bogus travel intermediaries, with scams and promises of passage to greener pastures.

According to a 2014 US Trafficking Report on Nigeria, the present precarious socio-economic situation of Nigeria makes it a fertile ground for both internal and cross border trafficking especially of women and girls such that the country has become notorious as a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking especially of women and children. Irregular migration is therefore a serious problem in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous of over 170 million people and largest economy.

Statistics shows that the bulk of irregular migration occour among youths aged between 18-35 years, which is the most productive age of human life and this is largely driven by economic incentives. A high youth employment rate of 61.1 percent and the ever rising cost of living are the major factors contributing to the high migration levels among the youths who either voluntarily migrate or are forced to due to economic reasons.

As a result of unrealistic expectations and limited understanding, many young migrants become easy prey to traffickers, making Nigeria a fertile ground for human smuggling, internal and cross border trafficking.

Olatunji Babaginda, the representative of the NURTW Ipoki Local Government branch speaking at the workshop.

Statistics also revealed that Nigeria has the highest number of migrant flows within the ECOWAS sub-regions and that Italy has 10,000 girls in prostitution with 60 percent being Nigerians (according to Italian Ambassador). The irregular kingpins are Africans, who mostly engage in documentation fraud and offer the irregular migrant passage from the West Coast to Libya and across Europe.

Dangers of irregular migration include but are not limited to forced labour, prostitution, HIV/AIDS, drug abuse and violence, commercial sex exploitation of children, pornography and degradation.

However, to address the issue of migration in Nigeria, the Federal government on the 13th of May 2015 adopted the National Migration policy to serve as a guide to all government and non-governmental agencies and provide strategic direction for efficient  and effective migration management both home and abroad as well as serve as a blueprint for engaging governments, institutions and all entities on migration and related issues that concern or affect Nigerians in the interest if the government of Nigeria and the people of Nigerians.

“The adoption of the National Policy on Migration is an expression of the government of Nigeria’s recognition and its consequences ad its commitment to establish and strengthen the structures that protect the human, civil and economic rights of citizens at home and abroad, as well as the rights if aliens residing in Nigeria,” Programme Officer, Data and Policy at IOM, Abuja, Lily Sanya, said.

Nevertheless, as immigration control measures become stricter, a growing number of young persons have devised daredevil means to go overseas while Smugglers of Migrants continue to upgrade their means of deceiving potential migrants.

Head Migration, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and IDPs, Charles Nwanelo Anaelo, confirmed that Nigeria has become a destination and sending transit for potential immigrants.

He however advised community members to be cautious of what is going on in their communities as migrant smuggling kingpin often work shadily under the covers of border communities such as Idiroko which is a transit area for immigrants.

“We are not saying you should not to travel outside the country. What we are saying is, if you must move, take the appropriate channel so that you will not fall prey of Smugglers of Migrants (SOMs) who may end of taking advantage of you.”

“Passports are now available in all corners…it’s easy to get now. What to do to get VISA into non-ECOWAS country has been stipulated. It is not something that you have to go to the moon to get,” he added.

Meanwhile, Mr T.J Idowu who represented the Nigerian union of Teachers Ipoki Local Government branch advised the organisers to take the sensitisation programme to schools because the students (young people) constitute larger portion of the environment.

Olatunji Babaginda, the representative of the NURTW Ipoki Local Government branch also commended the initiative in sensitizing the community. He however urged law enforcement officers to create an ambiance of teamwork so that they will be able to work hand in hand to combat Smugglers of Migrants.

Nevertheless, members of the community like the President of the Hairdresser Association at Ipokia Local Government, Comfort Esan, Artisans, religious leaders and community heads promised to take the message to their respective gatherings.

Busayo Sotunde is a prolific writer with special focus on Business, Entrepreneurship, Reproductive Health and other development issues in Africa. Her articles have been published by different outlets including Investing Port and She has a penchant for reading and sustainable development. Follow Busayo on Twitter @BusayomiSotunde

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