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Curbing Irregular Migration, Sex Slavery In Africa

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Data made available by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), showed that   between January and May last year, 29,000 people of sub-Saharan African origin went to Europe through the Central Mediterranean route, mainly   in search of greener pastures.
Unfortunately, their fate is uncertain, as they may end up as sex slaves, victims of organ theft, among others. Most of the irregular migrants were not aware of dangers ahead.
Aside those who ‘successfully’ made it, over 761 others died in the quest to cross, about 13,000 were pushed back by the Libyan Coast Guard, while thousands of others are languishing in detention facilities.
However, the tale is not only bleak in Europe, irregular migrants within Africa also suffer similar fate of forced labour and sex slavery.
According to a 2018 report by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), there were over 20,000 Nigerian girls working as sex slaves in Mali.
According to Chief of Mission, IOM Nigeria, Frantz Celestin, Imigration to Europe is mostly captured in the media space whereas a higher number of migrants remain within Africa.
“Most people look at the media report of migrants trying to get across to Europe, but the fact is that the vast majority of migrants who decide to move from one place of habitual residence, they decide to do so within the African continent.
“In fact, less than five per cent of those on the move go to Europe, the vast majority of them stay within the continent.
“If you look at ECOWAS citizens, more than 90 per cent of them stay within the ECOWAS space.
“Giving the number of people on the move and knowing how vulnerable people tend to be if they are migrating irregularly, the chances of them being trafficked or abused during their journey is quite high.
“So, if so many people are moving within the ECOWAS space, it is safe to conclude that a lot of them are being trafficked with in the ECOWAS space,” he said.
He said that from the study which had been carried out by the IOM, Mali remained top of the list of locations for Nigerian girls trafficked within Africa.
“If we know all of these and if ECOWAS tends to reason that there might be a lot of women trafficked within its space, what do we do?
“It is to make sure we understand the pattern, look at the trends, see where they are going – and Mali has quite a number of young Nigerian women as sex workers in the Gold Mine District.
“So if I were to say, given the numbers that we have seen, Mali is the number one destination in West Africa for Nigerian women who were trafficked.
“But there are trafficking going on throughout the ECOWAS space.’’
Celestin, who interacted with the media recently to advance the activities of the UN agency, pointed out that a sizeable number of the 29,000 persons who made it to Europe were Nigerians.
The IOM chief, who did not give specific figures pointed out that in spite of its campaign and sensitisation across Nigeria, many still opt to move as they are driven by many factors that must be addressed.
Celestin said that “the drivers could be conflict, social-economic pressures, population pressures, it could be disasters, climate induced phenomenon and we have seen quite a number of them with the severity and frequency going up and up.
“There are a lot of push factors out there and we only see that they are increasing.
“So how do we step forward to mitigate the number of people migrating as well as the level of suffering we see in that process.?
“It is not going to stop unless the drivers are removed or mitigated, and these drivers are hardship, conflict, disasters and the fact that we have more people looking for work and a lot of people underemployed.
“So the combination of unemployment and under employment will definitely push people forward.
“You can tell them as much as you want, but if you don’t find something to keep them in place, they will migrate.
“All of the work that we do is to prevent, reduce and address the drivers of migration,” he said.
Celestin however clarified that the work of IOM was not to discourage migration, as he insists that it is necessary for migration to take place, stressing that the import was for migration to be done the right way.
It is perhaps in its bid to drive home the message of migration across Nigeria that the IOM had continually sought partnerships with the Nigerian media.
At one of such dialogues held recently in Abuja, Celestin appealed to the media, as indispensable partners to help in getting the right message of migration across Nigeria.
“IOM would like to use this dialogue to facilitate your direct involvement in the dissemination of credible information on migration in support of its efforts to ensure orderly, dignified, and safe migration.
“Maintaining good media relation is indispensable and contributes to IOM’s daily work.
“IOM will continue to work with you to shed light on the plight of the people, and the often-hidden opportunities that arise from migration.
“Governments, migrants, potential migrants, and average citizens are much more likely to hear about IOM’s work through the media than through official reports.
“The role of media in achieving IOM’s objectives is crucial. Hence, the need for information flow built on cordial relationship between media outlets and IOM Nigeria.
“IOM is committed to working with journalists who will act as conduits of the organisation’s message,” he said.
Stakeholders believe that the ultimate solution to irregular migration lies in mitigating the drivers of migration, which will in turn mitigate trafficking, sex slavery, organ theft, among others.
Celestin believes that the $150 billion trafficking industry which has been identified to have high yields and low risks to the perpetrators, can only end with concerted efforts.
With specific reference to Africa, he said: “What is required is a coordinated response by all the member states and what we would call proper guidance by ECOWAS to effectively identify these networks and disrupt their criminal activity.
“What we are going to do is to systematically create bilateral relationships with these governments.
Not long ago, IOM Nigeria and IOM Niger had a 10-day conference where we were with NAPTIP and immigration officials from Nigeria and their counterpart in Niger.
“We brought them together to get these two agencies, Nigeria Immigration Service on the border part controlling who is going and then NAPTIP and their counterpart in Niger to coordinate and share information to disrupt these networks that are putting people in bondage and selling them as cattle and abusing them.
“So coordinated efforts, bilateral relationship and sharing of information are extremely important in stemming the flow of people and preventing these criminals from using people as commodity.
“No agency, no country, no one person can do it by him or herself, it requires a whole lot of society approach, a coordinated approach and putting the necessary mechanism in place to get this done.
“IOM is a solid partner; we offer our support to our member states, to the governments and support direct assistance to those who have been victimised by these criminals,” he said.
Indeed, it remains an arduous task to convince people to stay back in their home countries rather that migrate irregularly, especially when hunger, unemployment and insecurity continue unabated.
It is thus a clarion call for governments, particularly in Africa, to live up to their responsibilities, take advantage of their human and material resources and harness such for the betterment of their people.
In the words of an economist, Amarachukwu Nwosu, “Africa has more than the potential needed to be better than Europe and America. That potential should be harnessed.

By: Ifeanyi Nwoko
Nwoko writes for News Agency of Nigeria.

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Fubara Dispels Rumours of Crisis ….Insists Rivers Is Peaceful, Not Under Siege ….Inspects 14.6km Omodu-Eberi-Omuma Road

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has emphasised that the State and its people are enjoying an enduring atmosphere of peace to promote sustainable development, fast-paced investments and accelerated economic growth.
He said the recent negative narrative that portrays the State as immersed in crisis with disrupted peace is untrue, misguided and was the handiwork of mischief makers.
Governor Fubara made the clarification when he spoke to newsmen in Egbelu Community, shortly after inspecting the progress of work on the 14.6km Omodu-Eberi Road project in Omuma Local Government Area on Thursday.
The Governor said it was important that Nigerians know of the uninterrupted peaceful atmosphere in the State because the people are going about their  normal activities, while governance was thriving.
He stated: “And to also tell Nigerians that Rivers State is peaceful. You can see that we are moving about inspecting projects as against what you see on the screens of your television sets that police are everywhere, that we don’t move about anymore, and that Rivers State is under siege.
“We are not under siege. Our State is free and peaceful. If at all there is any problem in any part of the State, I know quite well that Nigerians know where the problem is coming from, not from us,” he clarified.
Governor Fubara emphasised: “We are peace-loving people. It is already written all over us. Our actions and our deeds have confirmed that we are peace-loving people.
“We will continue to maintain the peace that we promised everyone, for the betterment of the good people of Rivers State,” he added, and encouraged the business community, especially potential investors to take advantage of the vast investment opportunities that abound in the State.
Commenting on the 14.6km Omodu-Eberi Road project, Governor Fubara stated that the project was started by his administration with the target of inaugurating it during his one year in office anniversary.
Governor Fubara explained that what delayed the work was the decision to extend the length of the road to make it serve as a comfortable link for motorists to drive onto Abia State.
The Governor said: “We are in Omuma to inspect the project that we started. The project was supposed to be part of projects commissioned during our one year anniversary celebrations.
“But we found out that some part of the job, if completed, will link Rivers State to Abia State, and we felt there is no need to commission it halfway without joining that part that connects us to Abia State.”
Governor Fubara further said: “So, we directed the Ministry of Works to extend the project from 8 kilometers to 14.6 kilometers. So, we are here to see what is happening, and to prepare ourselves that maybe in the next two months, we might likely be coming here to commission this project for the good people of Omuma.”

 

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Fubara Tasks 23 CTC Chairmen To Maintain Peace   …Says Rivers Won’t Set Precedence On LG Tenure Extension …Directs Audit Of Councils’ Accounts

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has sworn-in caretaker committee chairmen and members for the 23 local government councils with a charge to eschew violence, maintain the peace, and be guided by the Constitution, so as to promote unity, inclusive administration, and achieve progress at the grassroots.
Governor Fubara, also directed the Auditor-General of Local Governments to commence immediate audit of the accounts of the 23 Councils.
He said that the swearing-in of the chairmen will ensure seamless administration of local governments following the expiration of tenure of elected chairmen and councillors in the State.
The Governor performed the swearing-in at the Executive Council Chambers of Government House in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, amid cheers, jubilations and commendations as the right step to douse the tension and bring everybody in the political space together.
The swearing-in followed the screening and confirmation of the nominees for caretaker committee chairmen and members by the State House of Assembly at the plenary presided over by its Speaker, Rt. Hon. Victor Oko-Jumbo, on Wednesday.
The list of seven-member nominees per local government council had been forwarded to the Assembly pursuant to Section 9 (5) of the Rivers State Local Government Law No. 5 of 2018, for screening and confirmation.
The Governor said the exercise demonstrated his administration’s commitment to upholding the tenets of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that does not provide for tenure elongation.
He explained: “What is happening here now is a defence of democracy. We will not allow the wrong precedent to be created in this country.
“It is not about Rivers State. It is not about Fubara. But if in any way this attempt of tenure elongation succeeds in Rivers State, it becomes a norm in Nigeria.
“So, we have taken it upon ourselves to say, not on our own watch will it happen because it is completely alien to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Governor Fubara wondered why tenure of elected officers will expire, and they want to perpetuate themselves in office against their oath of office and the provisions of Constitution of Nigeria.
The Governor sounded it clearly that such insistence to elongate tenure of council chairmen will not happen in Rivers State, and advised the out-gone chairmen, vice-chairmen and councillors to let go and return home.
He said, “So, for those people who are saying, the only reason why we (they) want to continue in office is because election has not be conducted, we have more than 85 percent of the States in Nigeria that are being run by caretaker committees.
“Ours is different, you had your tenure, you have completed your tenure, it is proper you let go. Life doesn’t create a vacuum. If you are not there again, that is, if your tenure has expired, doesn’t mean I should, because I want to please you, allow you to stay longer. No. It doesn’t happen like that. People must take over, manage the affairs and elections will be conducted.”
Governor Fubara pointed to the importance of knowing how finances of the 23 Local Government Councils were managed in the last three years, and directed the Auditor-General of Local Governments to begin auditing the accounts and make the report available within the next one month.
Specifically, Governor Fubara said: “I also want to say that, for the local government activities in the past three years, I would want to mandate: which is official assignment, not even a statutory duty, that the Auditor-General should immediately commence the audit of the 23 Local Government Councils in the past three years, and come up with the result in the next one month.
“It is important so that we will know what has happened and how our funds were being used in those 23 Local Government Areas. It is important so that it will be a check for those people who are also coming.”
Governor Fubara told the newly sworn-in CTC chairmen that their tenure will not be too long because the process for the conduct of fresh elections of local government chairmen and councillors in our State has started.
The Governor advised them to resume at their respective local government councils with utmost sense of duty and commitment to serve the people and protect the interest of Rivers State.
He warned them against any form of confrontation, insisting that such is not in his nature and style but advised them to be law-abiding as they take full control of the local government councils.
He said, “Whatever happened  yesterday (Tuesday), I know and the world knows that it is not from you people. Some persons caused it. So, let us not give them the opportunity to continue to make our State look bad in the comity of States.
“So, when you go back, if there is any situation, you should be law- abiding. I don’t want any confrontation. You can operate from anywhere for now. But the most important thing is that you have the control of the Local Government today.”
Governor Fubara urged them to ensure that they compute and pay the outstanding financial benefits and entitlements, including salaries of the outgone chairmen, vice-chairmen and councillors.
He added, “I am not of the class to say that because something happened, you should maltreat them. No. Whatever is their entitlement, ensure that they get it.”
Governor Fubara instructed the CTC chairmen to work hard to ensure that there is no breakdown of law and order in their various council areas.
The Governor expressed worry about the negative media portrayal of the State as ridden with crisis, and urged them to ensure that what they do changes such negative narrative.
“Please, I want to appeal to you that when you go back, I don’t want crisis. Just manage the situation as much as you can. God does not start and end half-way. That is the truth. Since God has started with us, He will definitely complete His work in our lives.
“I don’t want any fight. I don’t want any life to be lost because it does not earn me anything. We know that we can overcome, and we have been overcoming,” he advised the chairmen.
Those sworn-in include:  Madigai Dickson as chairman of Abua/Odual; while Hon. Happy Benneth is chairman of Ahoada East; Ahoada West has Mr. Daddy John Green as chairman; just as Barrister Otonye Briggs chairs Akuku-Toru; with Andoni chaired by Barrister Reginald Ekaan; and Asari-Toru, chaired by Orolosoma Amachree.
In Bonny, Alabota Anengi Barasua returned as chairperson; while in Degema, Anthony Soberekon is the chairman; with Eleme having Brain Gokpa as chairman, just as David Omereji is the chairman of Emohua; while John Otamiri Nkugbo is the chairman of Etche.
Also, Gokana has ??????? Kpeden as chairman; Ikwerre has Dr. Darlington Orji; Khana has Amb. Marvin Yobana; Obio/Akpor has Amb. Chijioke Ihunwo; Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni has Princewill Ejekwe as chairman; Ogu/Bolo is chaired by Rt. Hon. Evans B. Bi??; Okrika is chaired by Princess I. B. Ogan; Omuma chairman is Promise Reginald; ?????/??oro chairman, Hon. Enyiada Cookey-Gam returns; while Oyigbo has Hon. Gogo Phillip as chairman; with Ichemati Ezebunwo in charge of Port Harcourt City; just as Hon. Matthew Dike is the CTC chairman of Tai.
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In One Year, Rivers Rated High In Performance Index – Fubara

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has expressed excitement at an independent assessment carried out by some online media platforms that rated the State high in terms of projects’ delivery by first time governors in Nigeria.
The Governor said though he is not given to media hype, his performance in service and projects’ delivery, is in the public domain, visible to everybody, as life-changing strides of his administration.
Governor Fubara spoke during the Sallah solidarity visit by a delegation led by the Vice President General and Chairman, Association of South-South Muslim Ummah of Nigeria, Alhaji Nasir Awhelebe Uhor, to Government House in Port Harcourt on Monday.
Uhor is also chairman, Rivers State Council for Islamic Affairs (RSCIA).
The Governor said most people have continued to talk about the modest achievements that the administration has achieved in one year, which are being celebrated because they are genuine development efforts.
Governor Fubara said: “As a matter of fact, I am not a social media person, but I am aware of the fact that first term governors, when they rated them on Twitter and all social media platforms, Rivers State was ranked number one.
“We are not talking about a 2-kilometre road project. We are not talking about building one primary school. We are talking about life-changing projects; and that is why you don’t need to argue with anybody about what we have done. We don’t need to beat our drums because what we have done is there for the world to see.”
Governor Fubara emphasised the grace of God that is at work, enabling his administration to steady governance, and assured that the mark of development will leave Rivers State more better.
He said, “It is a difficult system but one with God is one with majority. So, when you have God around, you need to fear nothing. They will plan, they will gather, but their gathering, at the end of the day, will be to your own glory.
“So, I can say boldly that God has been very faithful to us against the expectations of a lot of people. He’s been guiding us, holding us forth, and we can boldly beat our chest to say: so far, we have shown that we are a responsible government.
“We have shown that we mean well for Rivers people. We have shown that this is not just a government that merely wants to control: it is a government resolved to give everybody opportunity, a government that allows you to feel free, operate within the laws. That is the only way we can move from where we are to a higher pedestal.”
Governor Fubara stated that his administration will continue to do everything possible to promote coexistence among all residents despite their religious inclinations while accommodating each other.
He noted the complaints surrounding the issues of the section Muslims bury their dead within the Port Harcourt cemetery, and request to be allowed to build a mosque within the Rivers State University premises for their worshippers, and assured that he will investigate to get at the true position before taking decisions.
However, he said, “But that of the state worship centre, we will do something about it immediately. We are doing it because, the only way for us to control and reduce crime is when we have comfortable places where the word of God is preached to people who go and listen to learn.
“Whether we like it or not, it is not a mistake when you see churches. It is not a mistake when you see a lot of mosques. It helps to reduce crime, because when people go to worship centres, they listen to the word and the fear of God comes.
“Some evil actions are curtailed compared to when you are not even hearing anything, and what is available to you is just the opportunity to commit crime only. So, we will make sure that we create a very conducive place for your worship because we know that at the end, it is going to be a win, win for our State.”
Governor Fubara advised the Muslim faithful to continue to obey the law, and work harmoniously with other residents, assuring that the State Government will continue to support them.
In his speech, the leader and Vice President General of Rivers State Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Nasir Awhelebe Uhor, said they are excited at the publicly stated commitment of the Governor to promote freedom of worship and fully implement inclusive policies.
As a result, Alhaji Uhor noted that there is inter-religious tolerance, zero attacks on Moslem faithful in the State, mutual agreement between Moslem and Christian groups to meet and pray together for peace of the state.
Alhaji Uhor restated the resolve of Moslems in Rivers State not to align with efforts that will truncate governance and the good policies to drive development agenda of the Governor Fubara-led administration.

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