The House of Representatives on Thursday accused the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment of complicity in human trafficking, especially of Nigerian girls to other parts of the world.
Chairman, House Committee on Diaspora, Tolulope Akande-Sadipe, made this allegation while addressing journalists on the backdrop of the absence of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, at scheduled hearing on trafficking.
Akande-Sadipe said for the 5th time, the minister was absent at the meeting and was again represented by a permanent secretary who claims he is new and does not understand what transpired prior to his engagement in spite of having signed a recruiters licence earlier this year when there was a moratorium placed on such licences since 2017.
“The House Committee on diaspora in a bid to find workable solution in tackling the menace of trafficking and the dehumanizing condition of Nigerians abroad by some local and international syndicates have been having a series of interagency meetings with stakeholders in this regard but regrettably the Minister of Labour that is at the centre of the whole controversy has intentionally refused to honour the Committee invitation for five consecutive meetings.
“It appears that there is a clear incompetence or complicity within the Ministry that has led to compromise trafficking and abuse of Nigeria citizen.
Investigation to date shows that licences were issued after the moratorium that allowed agents traffic our girls.
“Agents were allowed to take Nigerians to Lebanon, a country that doesn’t have a labour pact with Nigeria. Licences were issued to companies who haven’t complied with CAC /FIRS requirements.
“Girls were allowed to be taken out by agents without the mandatory counselling and orientation. Agents were allowed to operate without annual reports on the domestic staff sent abroad”, she alleged.
The Committee Chairman said the Ministry of Labour and Employment had refused to submit documentation requested and where documentation was provided, investigation revealed that there were inconsistencies in the report when compared to Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Ministry of Justice and Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).
She stated that the Ministry’s criteria for pre-qualification of international recruiters and evidence of compliance with the ministry’s pre-qualification criteria were not being observed.
While saying it was sad that Nigeria has to witness such a great disregard for the life of a Nigerian citizen by encouraging their trafficking, Akande-Sadipe said: “today we have over approximately 20000 girls in Mali, 2000 girls in Saudi Arabia, 1500 girls in Abu Dhabi, 2000 girls in Dubai 20000 girls in Libya.
“In a very dehumanising condition even the country government cannot get to these girls being held as slaves in remote areas. The Committee will have no choice but to escalate the distain for the life of a Nigerian in very dire circumstances abroad all because they wanted to do legitimate work to feed their families these are our children mothers and it must stop. And it would be taken up by the parliament at plenary”.