Story By Akinola Emmanuel
Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora Affairs, Hon. Tolulope Akande-Sadipe K. has called on the Federal Government to urgently put a stop to the exploitation of Nigerians abroad.
She pointed out that Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, under the supervision of Dr. Chris Ngige has violated the law and has continued to issue International Recruiters Licenses to Agents, despite Federal Government’s 2017 moratorium.
Hon. Akande Sadipe said this on Monday while responding to questions from journalists, lamenting that Nigeria has no Bilateral Labour Agreement with any nation and the execution of the Standing Operating Procedure (SOP) has been lingering.
She said, “Federal Government placed a moratorium on issuance of International Recruiters License in September 2017 and yet the Ministry of Labour and Productivity as at January 2020 was still issuing international recruiters licenses”.
She added that many Nations in the Middle East and even within Africa were violating the rights of our citizens under the guise of domestic servitude.
The Oluyole Federal Constituency Representative, said Eighty thousand Nigerian girls are currently held as sex slaves, and forced labour in Mali, across Middle East Nations:- with Lebanon, Saudi Arabia UAE and Oman top on the list.
“The question we must ask is How they got there? we have called out Immigration but then again Ministry of Labour is also complicit”, she said.
She pointed out that, “These agents collect $1000 plus the first 3 to 6 months salaries of the girls and abandon them to their plight in the foreign nations. The trafficked girls unfortunately are ignorant of the ills they may face abroad and are lured by the agents, because they seek a better life”.
Akande-Sadipe also revealed that these agents lie to the ladies about the jobs waiting for them in foreign lands, urging Nigerians to move away from the perception that the girls left this shores to prostitute.
She however decried the Minister of Labour and Employment’s refusal to appear before the Committee after four invitations, adding that the Ministry also refused to submit the requested information.
She added that information submitted earlier by the Ministry of Labour and Productivity, was inconsistent compared to the relevant records of other Federal Government Agencies, such as Corporate Affairs Commission, Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund and Federal Inland Revenue Service.
“In addition the Ministry has not been complying with laid down policies and procedures for international recruitment. For example, Agents pre-licensing procedures contravened the requirements of doing business with Federal government MDA’s”, she added.
“The Ministry did not conduct the mandatory pre-departure counselling; had no records of the annual reporting requirements mandated to Agents, which should provide information on the whereabouts of each Nigerian recruited, compensation and contact details”, she disclosed.
Hon. Akande-Sadipe further stated that the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr. William Alo and two of his lieutenants lied under oath to the Diaspora Committee.
“It is disheartening that the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, the Permanent Secretary and those who came with him gave the Committee false information”, she said.
This issue of human trafficking has reached pandemic levels and the appeals for help circulating across social media is an embarrassment to our Nation.
She therefore appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to initiate an Executive investigation into the activities of Labour and Productivity.
She also urged Mr. President to empower National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, adding that this would enable them achieve their mandate to apprehend and prosecute these Agents and to review the activities and funding of Foreign Missions to enable them meet their responsibilities to Nigerians across the world.