By Chinedu Eze
The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has confirmed the increase in the number of Nigerians struggling to travel overseas due to economic hardship.
There has also been an alleged increase in the spate of human trafficking, which makes Immigration work more daunting at international airports, as officers must carefully identify those who meet the conditions to travel and those who attempt to leave the country illegally.
This was disclosed by the Comptroller of Immigration, Murtala Muhammed International Airport Command, Mr. Abdullahi Usman, who said the Command was working with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) to ensure that those suspected to be victims of human trafficking are rehabilitated, while those behind the illicit movement are arrested and taken to court.
Usman said many of those who wanted to leave Nigeria illegally, largely women, claim to have secured jobs overseas; others claim they were going to meet with their husbands, while some said they were invited by their siblings but did not have any document to corroborate their reasons.
He said there is a body known as the Association of Recruiters who now mediates between Immigration and those who are travelling out of the country to work.
“The Nigerians who were stopped from leaving the country since international flight operations started on September 5, 2020 did not meet the given requirements for leaving the country.
“They gave unconvincing reasons why they wanted to leave but those reasons were not backed by proper documentation.
“Some said they were leaving for employment, but somebody that is going for employment and he has no employment visa, is it not a market? That is why we refused them departure. Somebody said they were going on visit, you ask him of his return ticket and he doesn’t have return ticket.
“Someone women said they were visiting their husbands, where are the details of the husbands? They won’t give reasonable answers. Where is the marriage certificate? It takes her time to respond. “Do we allow those kinds of people to go? No. This one now said he is going to meet the brother, we said fine, let’s have the details of the brother whether he is resident there or not. He can’t produce it.”
He added: “Some will come with visa officers, on profiling she will tell us that she is going for employment. She is going to Dubai for her ticket but when we are profiling her, she said is going to Egypt because she is following Egypt Air.
“So all those are issues. Those ones that have managed to say, okay they have given us the invitee there, we have seen the resident permit of the invitee, we now said okay, how much do you have to go with? He said N20, 000.
“You are going to Dubai you are calling naira and it is N20, 000. Is it good to allow that person to go? No. So we now advise them; we give them travel advisory. If you want to go for employment, make sure you have contract agreement letter. But again we have gotten a formal way of processing this kind of issues.
“The Association of Recruiters in Nigeria is to be licensed by the Ministry of Labour. We have Association of Recruiters now in Nigeria. So the process is that they will be licensed by Ministry of Labour.
“Then when they are licensed by the Ministry, their passengers that want to go will be screened by NAPTIP after they are screened by NAPTIP then they come to Immigration control post, where we will now look at it whether they have the requirement to travel out of the country or not,” Usman explained.
The Comptroller also confirmed that the number of Nigerians that want to leave the country, especially to Middle East and other parts of Asia continue to increase daily.
He also disclosed that under this period, from September 5 to December 15, the Command repatriated about 75 persons from different countries and mainly EU countries, Lebanon and other countries in the Middle East.
“Those repatriated based on Immigration related offenses were attended to by us, some that had drug related issues were referred to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA). Some who were repatriated on alleged cybercrime were referred to the police,” Usman added.