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NIDCOM: Rescuing Nigerians in difficulty abroad

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Two pathetic reports about Nigerians languishing in foreign lands that emerged over the weekend require urgent intervention by the Federal Government’s Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM).

The hapless citizens are in difficulty and except help comes from the home, they may as well be counted as lost. But no country that cherishes its image would allow that to happen to her citizens no matter what. Save them first and then reprimand them for the untoward actions that got them into trouble.

The first concerns some 30 Nigerian ladies reportedly trafficked to Lebanon who are now in dire need of urgent rescue. You may say Lebanon again? Yes Lebanon. That is where the traffickers have built nests for their victims. The stranded ladies have appealed to the Nigerian authorities to come to their rescue.

According to a statement released by the President of Journalists International Forum for Migration (JIFORM), Ajibola Abayomi, which was made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), JIFORM has forwarded details of the trafficking agents involved to the relevant agencies and would monitor it to ensure proper investigation of the matter.

Abayomi said the ladies were all clamped in one room without good facilities/utilities in a building at Dawra city in Lebanon. He noted that the ladies escaped from the inhuman treatment being meted to them by their mistresses and hosts.

“Help us plead with the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and others to save us. The Nigerian embassy in Lebanon has tried but we want to go back home. “Our belongings and international passports were seized with no payments for the service we have been rendering for months. They loosen and cut our hairs with razor blade. The police and their immigration are always on their side. We are not getting justice and our lives are in danger,” Abayomi quoted the victim as saying.

Abayomi said that the Executive Director, Rescue Africans in Slavery Organisation (RAIS), Ms Omotola Fawunmi, who spoke from the United States of America, pleaded with the government and other agencies to come to the victim’s aid. Fawunmi who claimed she has been responsible for the upkeep of the ladies stated that the victims are seriously suffering.

The second concerns Citizen Rufus Anthony who is serving an 18-year jail term in a prison at Saint-Etienne, France over the death of his estranged wife, Rhoda, who reportedly died in February 2015 in France.

According to Rufus’s mother, Madam Joy Anthony, Rhoda separated from her husband, abandoning her little son Michel with her husband in February 2014. They are surprised that the police stormed his residence on December 15, 2015, one and half years later to arrest him for the murder of Rhoda.

Mrs. Anthony lamented that the police arrested her son, charged him and the court convicted him to serve 18 years for being the one that saw Rhoda last.

‘That is why I am calling on Presidents Buhari and Macron to come to my rescue. Let the two leaders institute comprehensive investigation by deploying all security apparatuses, including Interpol, in respect of this case in order to unravel the circumstances surrounding Rhoda’s death.

I will say the above is the crux of the matter with regards to Citizen Rufus Anthony’s incarceration. The Federal Government authorities should step in and institute a judicial inquiry into the death of Rhoda who also is a Nigerian citizen.

What caused her death? Was she murdered by Rufus Anthony as alleged? Or, was her death caused by something else? The investigation will unravel the nitty-gritty and establish the truth and ensure that justice is served and no one is unduly victimised.

With regards to the 30 stranded ladies in Lebanon, what is required is an urgent rescue action to repatriate the unfortunate ladies. Of course, the Nigerian embassy should be involved. This is not the first time that the Federal Government would be rescuing Nigerian ladies trapped in Lebanon. Several of these cases have happened in the recent past.

Last January 2020, for instance, a Nigerian lady trafficked to Lebanon was rescued from that country. On April 29, another Nigerian lady advertised for sale in Lebanon was rescued and on May 26, yet another group of trafficked women were brought back home from Lebanon following a rescue action by the Federal Government.

I must personally draw the attention of Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman of Nigerian Diaspora Commission (NDC), to give attention to these two latest unimpressive developments that tarnish Nigeria’s image.

Dabiri-Erewa, the arrowhead in these rescue operations has been active in no small way in handling these complex operations. Her zeal is noteworthy and her patriotism is not in doubt. I commend her unrelenting altruism.

In writing about these developments, I relied on Nigeria’s citizen diplomacy that puts the welfare of the citizens and the image of the country in the international community in the front burner. The perception of any county is critical in assessing her international standing. A country with an image crisis or negative perception has a job to do to redeem her image. Nigeria is in that tight corner and needs rescue.

Although Nigeria’s image has been battered over the years from bad leadership that created a very harsh and unconducive environment for citizens to thrive, which in turn explains why many Nigerians are leaving the country in droves, there is still need to redeem the country’s image. Nigerian government must act fast in this regard.

The wave of mass migration of Nigerians into Europe across the Mediterranean Sea clearly shows that the home front is biting. There is no job and no security in many places. The country is in the throes of multiple man-made conflicts. Thousands of youths have been pushed to the edge, which makes them opt to flee the homeland. There seems to be no end in sight to the push factors driving citizens away. The conflicts pitching ethnic, political and religious divides are taking a toll on the country and its citizens.

It is needless to be lamenting about the steady flow of our migrations. The flow won’t just stop. The migrations are merely responding to the ugly situation at home. The causes must be addressed for peace and normalcy to return. The only solution is to stop the internal conflicts and give reprieve to economic migrants by way of job creation.

Europe and the Middle East are perceived as the Golden Fleece that serves as a pull factor. Hence, the movement is largely directed towards these regions. Contending with the desperate migrants alone while leaving the issues at home won’t solve the problem.

The federal and state governments should rise to the challenge. Government should call a spade a spade and address issues that forcing the youths out of the country thereby halting the spate of the enslavement of Nigerians in foreign lands.


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