BY CHUKS NNOCHIRI in Abuja•
Following the death of some alleged young Nigerians at the Mediterranean, the National Assembly has called on the Federal Government to intervene through its relevant agencies to stem the tide of youths migration to Europe.
In seperate session, the Senate yesterday called on the federal government to set up an inter-agency committee comprising the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nigerian Immigration Service, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and any other relevant agencies to immediately work out a strategy to stem the tide of illegal migration to Europe.
This is as the legislative body condemned the death of 26 Nigerian teenage migrants whose bodies were found on a Spanish war ship.
The Senate also directed its Committee on Foreign Affairs, Diaspora, and Special Duties to investigate the unfortunate incident.
Commending Italian prosecutors for working towards unravelling the horrific murders, the Senate expressed concern at reports that about 10,000 Nigerians have died along the Sahara desert Libya Mediterranean Sea route as at May 2017.
Corroborating with the Senate’s decision, the House of Representatives also yesterday passed a resolution mandating its Committee on Foreign Affairs to liaise with the Ministry and Libyan Government to unravel cause of incident, which led to the death of 26 Nigerian women.
Senator Rose Oko (Cross River PDP) who sponsored the motion on the matter said it was horrifying that the teenage girls are suspected to have been sexually abused and then murdered.
“Alarmed that most of these young persons have under gone several hazards ranging from the searing heat and biting cold of the Sahara desert, the marauding Tuareg bandits, assaults, abuse and rape; and the dangerous sea waves often on rickety rubber boats,” Oko said.
The senator lamented that the economic hardship in Nigeria caused by unemployment has contributed to the mass exodus.
“I strongly believe that it is time to go beyond the mere feeling of horror to taking pro-active, urgent and emergency measures to address the root causes of the exodus,” she added.
In the same vein, the House of Representatives also passed a resolution mandating its Committee on Foreign Affairs to liaise with the Ministry and Libyan government to unravel cause of incident which led to the death of 26 Nigerian women at the Mediterranean sea.
It followed a motion moved under “Matter of Urgent Public Importance,” by the Leader of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos).
He said reports indicated that there were over 50 persons that were traveling in the Ill-fated boat and queried what could have led to the tragic loss of lives of 26 Nigerians.
Members however, took turns to vent their concern on the possible cause and circumstances surrounding the deaths.
Gbajabiamila said: “It is a motion that involves the death of 26 young Nigerians at a sea. You are all aware that just a few days ago, 26 bodies were found. News filtered in that they were Nigerians. We were made to understand that there were about 70 persons but 26 died. They were Nigerians.
“When things like this happen abroad, we are always quick to send our condolences. But these are Nigerians. The questions are How come they were found dead at sea? What happened to the rest? We must not allow foreign bodies to do our work. It is a very sad one. If even it is one life lost, it is sad let alone 26.”
He said: “We need to investigate it with the Foreign Affairs Ministry with the Human rights groups to know what happened and report back to this House so that we can avert future occurrence.”
Hon. Akinade-Fijabi Saheed (APC, Oyo) said the latest incident was one out of many tragic occurrences at the sea, saying that it was important to know what happened and how the women died.
He said: “We should not forget that it was no just these 26 ladies. A lot has happened on the Mediterranean sea. We need to know what happened.”
Hon. Segun Adekola (PDP, Ekiti), lamented the harsh living conditions that usually made Nigerian youths to seek greener pasture abroad in the midst of deadly challenges, urging the House and the government to create jobs for them to prevent people from taking avoidable risks.
He said: “Our youths are going out to seek for greener pasture because our economy is harsh. The youths are not being employed. Mr. Speaker, Nigerian youths are suffering. It is high time we did something to alleviate their suffering. Nigerian government should do something. The youths are dying.”
On the same note, Hon. Onyemachi Mrakpor PDP, (Delta) recalled that the government was supposed to save the youths whom he said were the leaders of tomorrow.
She said: “Each time we have painful deaths like this, it brings to mind how we have failed. The death of our youths that are supposed to be leaders of tomorrow is terrible. When you get up in the morning and there is nothing to do or eat, what would you expect? I think as a country, we should look seriously into their issues.”
Similarly, Hon. Beni Lar (PDP, Plateau) who recognised the efforts of NAPTIP at stopping human trafficking and prostitution said that more funding was needed to be appropriated to the agency to improve on their activities.
She said: “I want implore the House that in 2018 budget, there is budget for emergency funding for NAPTIP to help tackle these problems”.
Hon. Betty Apiah (PDP, Rivers) said: “The rate at which Nigerian are dying on the Mediterranean sea calls for concern”.