The House of Representatives’ Committee on Diaspora on Thursday through its chairman, Hon. Tolu Akande-Sadipe, said about 80, 000 Nigerians are currently held as sex slaves and are in forced labour across the world especially in countries like Lebanon, Mali and across the Middle East, condemning complacency by relevant government agencies to the situation.
Akande-Sadipe made this known during the House plenary, expressing concern that the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Labour and Employment seem not bothered making it easy to subject young Nigerian girls to modern-day slavery, sexual exploitation and organ harvesting among other ills.
She noted further that the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, under the guise of diplomacy is working towards the release of a Lebanese trafficker, Wafic Mohammed Hamze, apprehended by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons who is complicit in the trafficking of 16 girls to Lebanon.
“Records show that Wafic Hamza was complicit in the trafficking of 16 girls, 10 of which have been repatriated back to Nigeria while six remain stranded in Lebanon. Hamze is currently in custody in Ilorin, Kwara State awaiting trial for trafficking but it appears that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the guise of diplomacy is working for the release of the said trafficker, without any regard for our citizens’ losses, their repatriation back home and compensation,” she alleged.
Hon. Sadipe also decried the unprecedented rise in the abuse and dehumanization of Nigerians abroad, especially in nations with a long history of cordial relationship with Nigeria, adding that, “the current and ongoing sordid dehumanizing treatments foisted on Nigerians abroad particularly trafficked girls under the cover of foreign domestic staff has become very disturbing.
According to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), in the past one year, there has been an alarming number of daily distress calls from Nigerian women crying to be rescued due to the inhumane conditions they face in various parts of the Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Oman and Lebanon and Mali (with Lebanon, Oman and Mali being top on the list),” she said.
Akande-Sadipe in the motion she raised as a matter of urgent public importance, noted that there is a pressing need for parliamentary intervention in the eradication of trafficking in persons, the resultant dehumanizing treatment of Nigerians abroad and the repatriation of stranded citizens, adding that there are some Nigerian students stuck in Turkey, who want to return home but cannot afford the cost of the evacuation flight and are consequently facing undue hardships.
She, therefore, urged the House to compel the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to negotiate affordable evacuation flights for Nigerians in the diaspora and also mandate the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Nigerian Immigration Service and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) to initiate the process of preparing a Bilateral Labour Agreement and Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for recruitment of Nigerians for unskilled labour employment in foreign lands.
In addition, she implored President Muhammed Buhari to ensure that necessary disciplinary measure is meted on the Hon. Minister and Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment for violating its suspension on the issuance of International Recruiters Licenses and issuance of licenses to non-compliant Companies.
She stressed that despite that these companies were in violation of the Federal Government’s procurement and service provision procedures as well as standard requirements, they were excused from the mandatory annual reporting requirements on location and conditions of service of each recruited Nigerian has taken abroad.
Akande-Sadipe noted that the ministry obstructed the House’s Committee on Diaspora in its attempt to carry out its official mandate by its refusal to submit documentation and lying under oath.