The National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI) on Monday in Abuja organised a solidarity road walk to sensitise Nigerians on the dangers of illegal migration.
The road show was held in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency (NOA).
The campaign is part of activities lined up by the NCFRMI to mark the International Migrants Day which is commemorated globally on Dec. 18.
Hajiya Sadiya Farouq, the Federal Commissioner, NCFRMI said that migration was a part of humanity and so the solidarity walk was aimed at advocating for safe, regular and humane migration, especially among the youth.
She said that the commission had been working with relevant agencies to enlighten Nigerians on the dangers they could face embarking through irregular routes which made them fell victims of criminal groups.
Farouq said that it was important for Nigerians to realise that there were lots of potential and opportunities in the country, instead of waste their lives in search opportunities in western countries.
“We are standing in solidarity for our sisters and brothers who have lost their lives or have gone missing during perilous journeys through the desert or by the sea in search of a better life.
“We remember many who have drowned at sea, the uncontrollable migrants sold as slaves and confined in detention centres.
“I would also remind those at home that are planning on doing the same that your lives are more valuable and there are better options at home.
“Even if you choose to travel, there are safer and more humane channels of doing so.
“I urge everyone here today to become advocates and educators of the dangers of illegal migration and to be kind to migrants,’’ Farouq said.
Also speaking, Mr Garba Abari, the Director- General NOA, said that as an agency with the responsibility of public enlightenment, it would not relent in educating Nigerians on the dangers of illegal migration.
He said that a lot of Nigerians had been evacuated from Libya this year, and from their horrific stories, “Nigerians have been able to see the harm and indignities being meted on illegal migrants.
Abari called on Nigerians to key into Federal Government’s policies and its fight to end illegal migration which was the leading cause to other hazards like sex trafficking, and forced labour among others.
“The onus, therefore, lies on us and on all peace loving people of this country, especially those on whose shoulders lies the responsibilities of making the conditions safe for all of us in this country.
“Definitely, we are going to succeed in combating this issue of illegal migration through more education, sensitisation and wide spread advocacy.
“We call on all Nigerians to be kind to irregular migrants who have been returned home.
“Government at all levels is ready to provide them with all the psychological support needed to be reintegrated back to the society,’’ Abari said.
In her remarks, Mrs Julie Okah-Donli, the Director-General, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) explained that illegal migration was the lead cause of human trafficking.
Okah-Donli said that it was important for Nigerians to note that an illegal migrant can’t get a better life in western countries, as the only jobs they could get were the dangerous, difficult and dirty jobs.
She said that millions of Nigerians were trapped all over the world as a result of illegal migration and had been subjected to trafficking, and sale of their organs.
According to her, they are also falsely accused of all sorts of heinous crimes.
She said that NAPTIP and its partnering agencies would ensure that Nigerians stranded in Libya and other countries were returned home to become useful to themselves and to Nigeria.
Mr Tony Elumelu, the representative of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, called for the protection of migrants, be they legal or illegal.
He said that it was important for the government to tackle the root causes that prompt Nigerians to embark on desperate illegal migration.
Elumelu also commended the Nigerian Immigration Service for its enforcement measures at the Agadez boarders to prevent Nigerians from further embarking on deadly trips.
The road show ended with a wreath laying at the old parade ground to honour illegal migrants who died in the course of deadly journeys to Europe and other foreign countries.