By Christiana Ekpa
The Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has described the alarming tide of human trafficking and illegal migration by some Nigerians as threat to national security that requires urgent response.
The President of the Senate, made the remarks when the Director General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, (NAPTIP), Dame Julie Okah-Donli, led senior members of the agency’s management team on a courtesy visit to him in at the National Assembly Complex Abuja Saraki said that in view of the bad image being created for the country and the overall security implications posed by the illegal migrants and victims of trafficking, the Senate would support the Federal Government and NAPTIP to work out a cohesive and comprehensive national response to the twin evil.
He stated that human trafficking and illegal migration activities have reached crisis proportions in the country with severe implications for national security.
“As you know through your valuable work, human trafficking and illegal migration are the EU’s number one issue with Nigeria,” Saraki said. “The European Union members fear these issues fuel the attraction of many citizens to the divisive messages espoused by ultra nationalist political parties.”
He lamented that thousands of young Nigerians continue to risk their lives unnecessarily as they attempt to transit across the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea on the false promise of a better life in Europe and beyond.
“The crisis has exposed the ruthless human trafficking, smuggling and criminal cartels that profit on the hopes and dreams of these young people,” Saraki said. “Many of these unscrupulous groups are organized by Nigerians.”
He added: “Unfortunately, this has caused some in the international community and media to shine negative attention on Nigeria, in this respect, the human trafficking and illegal migration crisis has become a national security issue.
“In response, the Senate is in agreement with NAPTIP that Human Trafficking is a national priority and represents a danger to national and human security.
“Also, we look to work with the Federal Government and NAPTIP in the creation of a cohesive and comprehensive national response to the migration crisis,” Saraki said.
He stated that the Senate is aware of the challenging work and important achievements of NAPTIP as “many of the EU country delegations have mentioned their partnerships with your agency.” “Therefore, we will make our best effort to support your agency during the 2018 budget/appropriations process,” he stated.
Earlier, the DG of NAPTIP, Mrs. Okah-Donli, decried the monumental challenges confronting the agency in efforts to fulfill its statutory mandate due to poor and irregular funding.
She called for the intervention of the National Assembly in enhancing the capacity of the Agency to better actualize its mandate through favourable budgetary provision and acquisition of a permanent office for the Agency in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
She also urged State Governments to provide adequate structures for the rescue and rehabilitation of the victims of human trafficking in their States.