Sunday, November 23, 2008

Human trafficking arrest in Nigeria

From The Punch:

Eighteen foreigners and a Malian suspected to be the kingpin of human trafficking in Nigeria, were on Friday, handed over to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and Other Related Offences by the Lagos State Command of the Nigerian Immigration Service.

The alleged kingpin, Mr. Mahmud Culibaley, was arrested after a tip-off by the NIS at a border town in Lagos, while trying to arrange for the distribution of the 18 foreigners to different parts of the country.

The 18 illegal immigrants were from Niger, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry and Mali.

Culibaley was alleged to have facilitated the entry of hundreds of illegal immigrants into the country in the last few months.

According to the Comptroller, Lagos Command of the NIS, Mr. Ayo Oredipe, the upsurge in illegal immigrants is becoming a major threat to national security as the motives or intention of the immigrants cannot be immediately ascertained.

Worried by this development, the Comptroller-General of NIS, Mr. Chukwurah Udeh, had recently summoned the top hierarchy of the Immigration to discuss and find a solution on issues of human trafficking.

He said, “We have a serious issue that had been of concern to government. We discovered that so many able-bodied men are being brought into the country. We are not certain about where they are going, but we want to put a stop to it.

“It is true that there is poverty, but it has not got to the stage of bondage. What is going on is a threat to national security; this is a situation where the productive manpower from other countries is entering Nigeria illegally.

He added, “We were given a mandate to fish out Culibaley and here he is with 18 other foreigners waiting to be distributed to different parts of the country. We are going to hand him over to NAPTIP and we suggest that he should be prosecuted.

“He said he had been in this business in the last six months, but today, his business empire had collapsed.”

The Public Relations Officer, NIS, Lagos command, Mr. Sunday Abutu, said that investigation carried out could not link their movement with terrorism, stressing that it was more of human trafficking.

In an interaction with our correspondent, Culibaley, who said he was the leader of Malians in Nigeria, disclosed that the foreigners usually gathered at a point from where they were brought into Lagos by motor cycle operators.

While admitting that the illegal immigrants were brought in for labour, Culibaley, however, said that he knew that what he was doing was illegal.

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