The Commandant of Naval War College Nigeria, Rear Adm. Murtala Bashir has said that irregular migration was affecting the socio-economic development of Nigeria.
Bashir said this during the Naval War College Course 5 Inter-Agency Cooperation in Maritime Security Operations Seminar held in Calabar with the theme “Curbing Irregular Migration through Cooperative Maritime Security”.
He said that irregular migration involves skilled citizens like doctors, engineers, technicians and other experts leaving Nigeria with their expertise which would have added value to the country’s economy.
According to him, irregular migration was a serious security breach, adding that many youths were involved in the act because of reasons ranging from economic deprivation, conflict, and political instability among others.
“The movement involve trekking in the wilderness, and crossing bodies of waters in unsafe vessels. Some popular routes are the Sahara desert and Mediterranean Sea.
“Pertinently, in 2019, over 20,000 youths involved in crossing the Mediterranean Sea were reported to be from Nigeria. Certainly, irregular migration from Nigeria dominate migration to Europe and America.
“We hope that the seminar would highlight avenues for cooperation among maritime related agencies in curbing the menace,” he said.
The Commandant, who said that the maritime environment was the ‘life line’ of Nigeria’s economy, conveying over 85 per cent of the total volume of international trade as well as being a store for living and non-living things, needed the protection of the relevant security agencies.
The Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service, Mr Mohammed Babandede, who delivered a lecture on the theme, said that Africa has taken the lead in irregular migration to European countries.
Babandede, who was represented by Mrs Anthonia Opara, Deputy Comptroller General, Migration, said that the rights and privileges of such irregular migrants were abused in whichever country they found themselves.
According to him, there was a need for a sustained and formidable collaboration between maritime agencies with a view to curb the trend.
“Most of the irregular migrants perish in the desert while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea.
“They are subjected to all forms of exploitation and torture in their bid to seek for greener pastures.
“The NIS has reviewed Nigeria Visa policy to accommodate a wide range of travel reasons by intending Nigerian visitors,” he said.
He disclosed that the NIS had also installed the Migrant Information and Data Analysis System at various entry points to capture and store passenger information in a secured data base.
In his goodwill message, Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Naval Command, Rear Adm. Sanusi Ibrahim, said that Nigeria’s maritime domain offers a plethora of resources to protect and explore.
The Flag Officer, who was represented by the Chief Staff Officer, Rear Adm. Olusola Oluwagbire, said that activities in the maritime environment were currently hampered by issues of funding, infrastructure and security among others.
The security agencies from the Army, Air Force, Immigration, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Department of State Services and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons were at the seminar