By Adeola Badru
THE Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora, Hon. Tolulope Akande-Sadipe has decried the complicity within the Ministry of Labour and Productivity, which, she said, has worsened the trafficking and dehumanising conditions of Nigerians abroad.
She said this during the committee’s meeting, noting that the Minister for Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige has turned down the Committee’s invite for the umpteenth time.
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In a statement signed by her Special Assistant on Media, Olamilekan Olusada and made available to Vanguard on Monday, read that: “It appears that there is clear incompetence or complicity within the ministry that has led to this compromise in the trafficking and abuse of Nigeria citizens.”
“We have invited him five (5) times and he was again represented by a Permanent Secretary, who claims he is new and does not understand the workings and what transpired prior to his engagement, in spite of having signed a recruiters licence earlier this year, at a time when a moratorium had already been placed on such licenses, since 2017,” the statement read.
Revealing further in the statement, that the committee has invited Ngige five times consecutively, Akande-Sadipe added that: “The House Committee on Diaspora in a bid to find workable solutions to tackle the menace of trafficking and the dehumanising condition of Nigerians abroad by some local and international syndicates have been holding a series of interagency meetings with stakeholders, but regrettably the Minister of Labour whose portfolio is at the centre of the whole controversy has refused to honour the committee’s invitation for five consecutive meetings.”
The statement further asserted that investigation showed that licences were issued by the Ministry of Labour after the moratorium, that has allowed agents to traffic girls out of Nigeria, adding that agents were allowed by the Labour Ministry to take Nigerians to Lebanon, a country that does not have a labour pact with Nigeria.
He further wrote that Licences were issued to companies who have not complied with CAC / FIRS /NSITF requirements, noting that citizens were allowed to be taken out by Agents without the mandatory counselling and orientation.
The statement also stated that agents were allowed to operate without complying with the annual reporting requirement on the domestic staff sent abroad, while the Ministry of Labour has refused to submit the documentation requested, in spite of several requests sent to the Ministry.
However, the statement disclosed that where documentation was provided by the Labour Ministry, investigations revealed that there were inconsistencies in the report from Labour in comparison with FIRS / CAC / NAPTIP/ Justice and NSITF’s documents.
The committee had earlier requested for Ministry of Labour’s criteria for prequalification of International Recruiters and evidence of compliance with the Ministry’s pre-qualification criteria which must include copies of National Identification Number or Voter’s Card and data page of International Passport.
Akande-Sadipe led Committee also requested for a number of licence awards for International Recruiters from 2014 to 2020 and number of renewals for each licence since the same period;
The Committee also wrote the Ministry of Labour and Productivity, demanding evidence of each company’s compliance with statutory registration for doing business with the government of Nigeria – indigenous and foreign companies – attach proof of Form C02, C07 and other evidence.
Copies of a memorandum of understanding and articles of association licenced international recruiters from 2014 to 2020; and copies of the memorandum of understanding and articles of association licenced international recruiters from 2014 -2020 were also called for by the Committee.
Olusada noted that the Akande-Sadipe Committee has sadly not been adequately equipped with this necessary information, saying: “It is sad that Nigeria has to witness such a great disregard for the life of Nigerian citizens by an MDA of the Nigerian Government through their acts which are encouraging human trafficking.”
The committee has threatened to escalate the matter and bring it up at the plenary, noting that the disdain for the lives of Nigerians in very dire circumstances abroad must stop.