Nigerian women, totalling 26, whose ages range from 14 to 18 were reportedly found dead recently in a Spanish warship as they tried to cross the Mediterranean Sea. According to British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that made the disclosure, the deceased might have been sexually abused and murdered.
It was reported that following several rescues, corpses of the Nigerian women were discovered in a refrigerated section of the Spanish warship, Cantabria, which was also carrying 375 migrants most of whom were sub-Saharam Africans from Nigeria, The Gambia, Ghana, Sudan and Senegal.
It is unfortunate that another group of young Nigerians who were promising future mothers, have lost their precious lives under such a tragic circumstance. This was clearly in an attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea where they erroneously believed lies the so-called greener pasture. The recurring tragedy arising from the rising spate of risky illegal journeys by Nigerians desperately fleeing the country has become worrisome and should be of major concern to the Federal and State Governments.
The dangers of illegal migration by Nigerians to Europe and other countries are unquantifiable. For instance, such as in this particular case, women among the illegal migrants have been sexually abused and murdered by those described as people-smuggling gangs that charge each migrant about $6,000 to get to Italy. There have been cases of those left to drown while some are still missing several years after travelling out of Nigeria. The incalculable dangers Nigerians migrating illegally abroad expose themselves to are not only avoidable but also do not worth the risks involved.
The usual reason illegal migrants give is that Nigeria’s economy is harsh. However, even if this is true, it is no justifiable excuse for them to endanger their lives by embarking on such tortuous journeys across the Mediterranean Sea. Sadly, like the 26 women, not all travellers are always lucky to reach their destinations alive.
According to Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora Matters, Abike Dabira-Erewa, a Nigerian traveller may be charged up to $4,500 by human traffickers for a trip. Whereas this amount is enough for him to set up a small-scale business in Nigeria rather than seeking the unknown in a foreign country or getting murdered in the desert.
Concealing lifeless bodies of the hapless Nigerian women in a refrigerated section of the warship, perpetrators of the crime probably thought what they did would not be discovered. The women must not be allowed to die in vain.
We, therefore, urge the Federal Government to without delay, liaise with the Government of Italy to ensure perpetrators of this dastardly act are brought to book to serve as a deterrent to others. The untimely death of these young Nigerians has again brought to the fore the need for government at various tiers, to seriously address the myriad of socio-economic problems scaring Nigerians away from their fatherland to other climes.
If the economy is in good shape and the citizenry are gainfully engaged to contribute to the development of their country, there will be no reason for them to flee the country. There should be conducive environment for the citizens to use their potentials to realise their dreams in Nigeria.
Unsuspecting parents should be wary of unscrupulous characters that ask them to release their children to be sent abroad for gainful employment. Frankly, life abroad is not as better as it is being perceived by gullible parents and their children who are being deceived by wicked human traffickers. To stem the rising wave of illegal migration by Nigerians, relevant government officials securing the porous borders should step up their operations. They should desist from conniving with the corrupt syndicate to boost human trafficking business.
Failure to punish human traffickers has contributed to upsurge in the illicit business which has become a big scandalous racket portraying Nigeria in bad light. We implore National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (NAPTIP) to be alive to its responsibilities by educating the citizenry concerning dangers of illegal migration.
Finally, while we appreciate the fact that Nigerians have the right to travel out of the country, they should, however, do so legally to avoid possible fatal consequences.
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