National Assembly investigates 26 girls’ death in Spanish warship
Lawmakers lament harsh living condition of citizens
The National Assembly has resolved to investigate the death of 26 young Nigerian girls found in a Spanish warship on the Mediterranean en route Italy.The decision was taken yesterday in the Senate following a motion titled “Death of 26 young Nigerian girls en route Italy” sponsored by Rose Oko.In her lead debate on the motion, Oko said the concern was not only about the ages of the dead girls, which range from 14 to 18 years, but that they were said to have been sexually abused and eventually murdered.
The lawmaker noted that the rate of illegal migration of young boys and girls to Europe, especially to Italy and Spain, in search of fake greener pastures is high. “These journeys are through the long and hazardous Sahara desert and the Mediterranean sea. They run into the hands of bandits, and are abused and raped as they move through the perilous sea waves often in rickety rubber boats,” she said.
The lawmaker said that about 10,000 Nigerians perished along the Sahara desert-Libya-Mediterranean sea route in May this year. According to her, Italian prosecutors who have begun an investigation into the recent deaths have arrested an Egyptian and a Libyan as suspects.
Other legislators who made contributions listed the factors that led to the national tragedy as poverty, economic instability, hardship, drug trafficking and unemployment across the country. They called on the presidency to declare a state of emergency on the employment market in the country and proffer options on how to engage the teeming unemployed youths.
Also, the House of Representatives yesterday mandated its committees on Foreign Affairs and Human Rights to investigate the death of the girls and suggest measures aimed at forestalling recurrence.Their concern followed a motion by the Leader of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, who said he was concerned with the circumstances that surrounded the death of the girls.
In the motion, Gbajabiamila said the news that filtered in indicated that there were over 50 persons that were travelling in the boat. He queried what could have led to the tragic loss of the lives of the 26 Nigerians.He said: “You are all aware that just a few days ago, 26 bodies were found. News filtered in that they were Nigerians. We were made to understand that there were about 70 persons but 26 died, and they were Nigerians.
“We need to investigate it with the Foreign Affairs Ministry, with the human rights groups to know what happened and report back to this House so that we can avert a future occurrence.”Many members of the House took turns to ventilate their worry on the possible cause and circumstances of the deaths.
Agidade Fijabi (Oyo State), Beni Lar (Plateau State) and Betty Apiafi (PDP, Rivers) spoke on the matter. Segun Adekola (PDP, Ekiti) lamented the harsh living conditions that usually make Nigerian youths to seek greener pastures abroad in the midst of deadly challenges, urging the House and the government to create jobs for them to prevent people from taking avoidable risks.
Onyemaechi Mrakpo (PDP, Delta) reminded the House that the government is supposed to save the youths whom he said are the leaders of tomorrow.“Each time we have painful deaths like this, it brings to mind how we have failed. The death of our youths that are supposed to be leaders of tomorrow is terrible. When you get up in the morning and there is nothing to do or eat, what would you expect? I think as a country, we should look seriously into their issues,” she said.
When eventually the motion was subjected to a voice vote by Speaker Yakubu Dogara, it got an overwhelming majority.Dogara then mandated the two House committees to liaise with the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Libyan government to investigate the tragic occurrence.
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