Japa: Nigeria Lacks Laws To Restrict Outbound Movement – Ex-Immigration Boss

During a national learning event in Abuja focused on combating human trafficking and unsafe migration, former Controller-General of the Nigerian Immigration Service, Muhammad Babandede, highlighted the challenges Nigeria faces in curbing illegal migration and human trafficking.

He emphasized that Nigeria lacks specific laws to restrict its citizens from leaving the country, contributing to the rise in illegal migration.

Babandede stressed the importance of having committed leaders who prioritize the welfare of the people to address this issue effectively.

The event, titled “Scaling up prevention of human trafficking and unsafe migration through traditional and new approaches,” was organized by the Women Aid Collective with support from the Swiss Government’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. It aimed to facilitate experience sharing and disseminate policy briefs to combat these pressing challenges.

Lack of Laws Restricting Outbound Movement

Babandede highlighted the absence of legislation in Nigeria to prevent citizens from leaving the country. Unlike some stricter nations that require exit visas, Nigeria allows individuals with valid visas to depart freely. This situation places the responsibility on immigration and law enforcement officials at the borders to allow visa-holding individuals to exit the country, with potential legal consequences for those who fail to comply.

Babandede emphasized the need for comprehensive immigration laws and stricter measures to control outbound movement.

He said, “Nigeria does not have laws to stop people from leaving. Some strict countries in the world have what we called exit visas, which means before you leave the country, you need to get a visa to leave. But Nigeria does not have an exit visa, which means that any immigration officer or law enforcement officer at the border must allow anyone who has a visa to leave the country otherwise you get a court case.”

Collaboration and Good Governance

Babandede emphasized the role of good governance in combating human trafficking. He underscored that addressing human trafficking goes beyond criminal activities; it requires a holistic approach and cooperation among the media, civil society, and law enforcement agencies. Collaboration is essential to combatting this clandestine crime effectively.

Nigeria’s Role in Human Trafficking and Preventive Measures

Josiah Emerole, the Director of Intelligence and Public Enlightenment at the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), shared concerning statistics related to human trafficking.

He revealed that Nigeria, as both a source and transit country, is heavily affected by this issue. Illegal migration and human trafficking thrive due to factors such as poverty, youth unemployment, security concerns, inequality, exclusion, conflict, and corruption. Emerole highlighted the difficulty in obtaining accurate data on these crimes, but NAPTIP has rescued over 19,000 Nigerians and intercepted numerous potential victims.

However, prevention remains a key challenge, and increased efforts are required to address the root causes and scale up preventive measures.

In her remarks, Prof. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, Executive Director of WACOL, expressed concern about Nigeria’s reputation as a significant source country for trafficking victims.

She stressed the importance of prevention as a fundamental approach to tackling human trafficking, highlighting the need to address poverty, youth unemployment, security issues, inequalities, conflicts, and corruption.

Ezeilo emphasized the role of NAPTIP but called for increased support and awareness, acknowledging that Nigeria’s reputation is at stake.

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