Benjamin Babine, Abuja
The Ministry of Labour and Employment has finally come out to debunk the
allegations claiming that it was complicit to human trafficking of Nigerian girls by issuance of illegal Recruiter’s License to Private Employment Agencies (PEAs).
The spokesperson of the Ministry, Mr Charles Akpan, stating through statement said that the Ministry has not issued any Recruiters Licence with respect to the placement of Nigerian citizens abroad in breach of the relevant provisions of the Labour Act.
The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora, Tolulope Akande-Sadipe, had reportedly accused the Ministry of illegally issuing of licences to PEAs, which she said paved way for the trafficking of Nigerians.
The statement read in part: “The Ministry wants to state categorically that it has not issued any Recruiters Licence with respect to the placement of Nigerian citizens abroad in breach of the relevant provisions of the Labour Act CAP L1 2004. Furthermore, at no time did the Federal Government issue any moratorium against issuance of Recruiters’ Licence.
“We challenge anyone making the allegation to produce such moratorium if it exist. The Ministry is empowered by section 23, 25 and 71 of the Labour Act Cap L1 LFN 2004 to license fit and proper persons to operate as Labour Contractors and Private Employment Agencies.
“As part of the strategies to reduce irregular labour migration whilst promoting regular migration, the Ministry has put in place a Labour Migration Desk to address the associated problems with the movement of skilled and low skilled persons within and outside the country.
“The Desk seeks to ensure and create employment opportunities for Nigerians to work legally abroad, without fear of molestation, exploitation or any form of inhuman treatment or being subjected to unfair labour practices.”
He added that the ministry was guided by the provisions of the International Labour Organisation’s Migration for Employment Convention No 97, Private Employment Agencies Convention No 181 and its Recommendation No 188 and had taken initial steps required for its ratification.
Akpan said that prior to obtaining the recruiters’ licence, recruiters are bound by the provisions of the Labour Act with respect to welfare and conditions of work and procedures for operating the licence. He noted that one of such procedures was the requirement that prior to any citizen leaving Nigeria under a foreign contract it should fulfill provisions in Section 39 of the Labour Act CAP L1, 2004.
“The recruited worker must be brought before an authorised labour officer and certified by that officer as duly recruited in accordance with the provisions of the law. It is therefore obvious that the possession of a Recruiters Licence for foreign employment does not confer or guarantee automatic clearance for a Recruiter to recruit citizens for work abroad without first complying with the procedures provided in the Labour Act before workers travel under a contract of employment with the Recruiter,” he said.
He further noted that no PEA issues clearance by the Ministry was found to be involved in human trafficking, saying that it was on record that none of the trafficked Nigerian girls was linked to any PEA licences by the Ministry.
“To set the records straight, at no time did any person, body or Committee request the Ministry of Labour and Employment to suspend its statutory duty of issuing recruiters licence to qualified PEAs as being peddled by some uninformed persons,” he noted.