The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) says no fewer than 16,800 illegal migrants have returned to Nigeria, under its joint initiative with the European Union (EU) from 2017 to date.
Cyprne Cheptepkeny, the Project Officer, Awareness Raising, IOM, said this in Benin on Friday at a town hall meeting organised to promote safe migration.
Cheptepkeny said that Edo State accounted for 40 per cent of the total number of the illegal migrants that returned to the country, while Delta and Ogun states accounted for 13 and 6 per cent respectively.
She noted that the town hall was to provide a platform for the former migrants, as messengers, to share their experiences and sensitise potential migrants to the dangers inherent in engaging in illegal migration.
“Sharing videos and experiences is one key activities we do; using migrants as messengers to sensitise targeted audience,” she said.
Also speaking, Mr Arome Salifu, the Executive Director, Africa Youth Growth Foundation (AYGF), urged potential migrants to acquire adequate skills, while travelling overseas through the proper channels.
“Migration is not a crime but people should learn to do it with dignity.
“Before you travel, you must make sure that you acquire skills that will sustain you. Then, follow the due process and channels,” he said.
Salifu called on all stakeholders to focus on youth development by encouraging them to acquire skills.
He stressed that many countries had shut their doors against foreigners, adding that only those who were ready to contribute to the economy of such countries were given the opportunity to migrate to the countries.
He said that the foundation had written to many countries, imploring them to change their immigration policies to reduce the menace of illegal migration.
“We are also calling on our government to live up to expectations in governance and prioritise the development of the people.
“If not, we will continue to have these kinds of discussions,” he added.
Ijeoma Uduak, the Benin Zonal Commander of National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), thanked IOM and other partners for organising the town hall meeting.
Uduak noted that the Benin Command of NAPTIP had secured the court sentence of nine people to different jail terms for human trafficking.