Slave trade: Buhari inaugurates 17-man committee to rescue, stop exodus of Nigerians to Libya


In a bid to stop the continuous exodus of some Nigerians to Libya with the hope of crossing to the Western world through the Mediterranean and also rescue those who has still trapped in that country, President Muhammadu Buhari has set up a 17-man fact-finding mission. 

The team may also open talks with Libyan authorities on how to stop the exodus of Nigerians to the Arab country.

The panel has 38 days  to evacuate all Nigerians trapped in Libya.

The team, which will leave for Tripoli immediately, collaborating with the Nigerian mission in Libya.

No fewer than 5,037 Nigerians have volunteered to return to the country but the number could rise, with the presence of the committee in Libya.

About 6,091  have been brought back to Nigeria from Libya through  collaboration between the National Emergency Management Agency( NEMA) and the International Organisation for Migration( IOM).

The president’s 17-man team is headed by Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama.

Others are Comptroller-General of Immigration Mohammed Babandede, NEMA Director- General Mustapha Maihaja,  Senior Special Assistant to the President on the Diaspora Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons ( NAPTIP) Director-General Julie Okah-Donli, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, some diplomats and nine members of a sub-technical team.

A source in the Presidency, who spoke in confidence, said: “This is the first elaborate measure put in place by the Federal Government under the leadership of President Buhari. Hitherto, NEMA had been managing reception centres for IOM.

To underscore his commitment, the President has directed that Monitoring and Evaluation desks be opened in his office and in Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s office. So, there is no room for tardiness at all.

This evacuation started on December 22  and the execution is planned to end within 38 days.

Another top government  source said “with the approval of the President, an operational secretariat  has been activated. The secretariat, which is headed by the DG of NEMA., comprises all stakeholders and security agencies. The centre will be guided by the Monitoring and Evaluation Manual to ensure strict compliance and timely evacuation.

The government has established a Reception Centre in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital to receive the over 5, 037 returnees. The Zonal Coordinator of NEMA will manage the centre.

Max Air and Medview have been approved as carriers to fly home the Nigerians.

NAPTIP, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons in conjunction with NEMA will be responsible for the rehabilitation of the returnees,” the source said.

We will receive and profile the returnees, ensure their health status and provide feeding arrangement. The University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital has been placed on the alert by the Federal Ministry of Health for appropriate medical attention for returnees in need. It is really a tidier structure,” the source said.

The Federal Government is to work with the governors of the returnees’ states.

The governors have supported this evacuation. After profiling, identification and documentation, the returnees will be handed over to their state governors.