By Myke Uzendu, with Agency Reports
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Friday said that no fewer than 16,800 illegal migrants returned to Nigeria under its joint initiative with the European Union (EU) from 2017 to date.
Ms. Cyprne Cheptepkeny, the Project Officer, Awareness Raising, IOM, made this known during a Town Hall Meeting to promote safe migration in Benin, Edo State.
The theme of the Meeting was: “Local Opportunities as Panacea for Changing Illegal Migration Practices.”
Cheptepkeny said that Edo State accounted for 40 per cent of the total number of returned illegal migrants, while Delta and Ogun States accounted for 13 and 6 per cent respectively, among others.
She explained that the meeting was to provide a platform for migrants, as messengers, to share their experiences and sensitise potential migrants on the dangers inherent in engaging in illegal migration.
According to her, “sharing videos and experiences is one key activities we do, using migrants as messengers to sensitise targeted audience”.
Also speaking, Mr. Arome Salifu, the Executive Director, Africa Youth Growth Foundation, urged potential migrants to acquire adequate skills and seek travel destinations and advise only through the proper channels.
Salifu said: “Migration is not a crime but people should learn to do it with dignity.
“Before you travel, you must make sure that you acquire skills that will sustain you over there.
“And ensure you follow due processes and channels.”
He called on all stakeholders to focus on youth development by encouraging them to acquire relevant skills.
He explained that several countries had shut their doors against foreigners/migrants, adding that only those who were ready to contribute to the economy of such countries were given the opportunity to migrate to the countries.
Salifu said his foundation had written to several countries for them to change their immigration policies to reduce the menace of illegal migration.
He said: “We are also calling on our government to live up to expectations in governance and prioritise the development of its people.
“If not, we will continue to have these kinds of discussions.”
Ijeoma Uduak, the Benin Zonal Commander of the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), thanked the IOM and other partners for organising the Town Hall Meeting, (Additional reports from Eagleonline)