London – Inadequate information and a lack of awareness on rights, duties, obligations and processes have been identified as some of the major challenges facing Nigerian migrants in the UK.
Dr Dalhatu Sarki Tafida, Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the UK, said this in London at the launch of free legal information session for the Nigerian Community in the UK.
The occasion was organised by the British Nigerian Law Forum (BNLF) and the Central Association of Nigerians in the UK (CANUK) in London.
He said the challenges had made it impossible for the migrants to actualise their human rights and protect themselves from discrimination, injustice, victimisation and abuse.
“Many Nigerians in this country, be they regular or irregular migrants, are often least aware of their rights and obligations under the law (British),’’ Tafida said.
“The law offers protection to everyone, including the vulnerable and the less privileged regardless of status,’’ he added.
The envoy explained further that creating awareness about legal protection, including the mechanisms for seeking redress was essential to the full enjoyment of human rights under any law.
He urged Nigerians in the UK to take advantage of the British, European laws and international human right instruments and conventions, to seek for legal redress and protection.
Tafida, who also commended the organisers of the occasion for the initiative, the first of its kind in the UK, expressed the hope that the session would impact significantly on those with immigration, legal and social challenges.
Earlier, Mr Babs Akinyanju, the Chairman of the BNLF said for Nigerians to operate unencumbered in the British society, they needed to know their rights and responsibilities.
Akinyanju said that in order to do this; they needed to seek legal information services from solicitors and lawyers.
He, however, expressed concern over the inability of many Nigerians with immigration challenges to access legal services in the UK, due to a lack of funds.
Akinyanju said in order to impact on the community, BNLF decided to partner with CANUK to provide free legal services to Nigerians with immigration problems under strict confidentiality.
“The free legal services were initiated at a smaller scale in the Nigerian Chaplaincy Church at Marylebone in 2006.
“We thought, in collaboration with CANUK with a wider reach, we will be able to provide these free services to the members of the Nigerian community better because we live in a democratic society,’’ Akinyanju said.
Similarly, Mr Bimbo Folayan, the CANUK Chairman, said that migration issue had become a major challenge for many Nigerians living in the UK.
He, however, expressed the association’s commitment to the welfare of members of the Nigerian community in the UK.
The topics of the session included general immigration issues such as family re-unification, “over-stayers” and European Economic Area (EEA) marriages and family permit as well as
Tiers 1 and 4 of the Point Based System (PBS) visa requirements. (NAN)