THE Migration Enlightenment Project Nigeria, MEPN, a non-governmental orgainsation based in Germany, has called on the Nigerian government to make tougher laws to stop human trafficking in the country. Reacting to the death of 26 Nigerian women who drowned in the Mediterranean on November 5, 2017, the organisation said the latest tragedy “brings again to the fore the ongoing humanitarian crisis as they affect sub-Saharan migrants in Libya and the need to enact tougher laws against human trafficking to bring the needless deaths to an end.”
The MEPN, while commiserating with the families of the affected women, said in a statement dated November 10, 2017, and signed by Kenneth Gbandi and Femi Awoniyi, coordinators of the organisation, said that the seemingly endless losses of Nigerian lives caused by irregular migration should be stopped forthwith.
“At least 13,000 migrants, many of whom are Nigerians, have drowned while attempting the passage across the central Mediterranean since 2014, according to the UNHCR. Many more are believed to have died en route,” the statement said.
According to Gbandi and Awoniyi, the latest tragedy should be a wakeup call to governments to adopt policies to tackle the problem of human trafficking, “which is being run by powerful cartels that have connections both in Nigeria and abroad.”
They noted that unemployment and the desire to seek greener pastures abroad are usually used as baits to lure young Nigerians to embark on irregular migration.
“It has, therefore, become important now more than ever before to curb the activities of persons engaged in the illicit irregular migration business who have lured many desperate youths into their untimely deaths.
“The activities of human traffickers does not end with deceptively promising their unsuspecting customers an easy passage to Europe but increasingly include taking their hapless clients directly into the trap of kidnappers in the transit countries especially Libya.
“There have been several reports this year alone on how thousands of sub-Saharan migrants are held for ransom in abysmal conditions – facing torture, exploitation, and abuse, by criminal networks. Detained migrants are asked to buy their freedom by paying up to $5,000 per person. The victims are compelled with violence to call their relations in Europe and Nigeria to pay the money.
“These ransom monies are paid into the accounts of members of the gangs in Europe and Nigeria. Those who are unable to buy their freedom are subjected to forced labour, sexual slavery and torture. Many victims die in the process.
“It’s now time to enact tougher laws targeting people traffickers as their crime is akin to that of kidnappers in Nigeria. Perpetrators deserve to be sentenced to jail terms without the option of fine,” the coordinators said in the statement.
That, notwithstanding, they commended efforts and boldness of Governor Godwin Obasaki of Edo State, to legislate against human trafficking.
The MEPN, however, enjoined Nigerian national legislators to work with the federal government to enact laws against human trafficking in the country.
They warned: “Human traffickers, who have no regard for human life, have led too many innocent Nigerians to their untimely death. It’s time to put a stop to the activities of these criminals.”
– Nov 10, 2017 @ 15:11 GMT |