Nigerian returnees from Libya disembarking in Lagos, December 2017. Hundreds of thousands of sub-Saharan are believed to still be trapped in the north African country / Photo: NAN
You are on your own, Buhari tells Nigerian irregular migrants
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday warned Nigerians who continue to migrate from the country through illegal routes, despite the inherent dangers, that they are on their own.
He said such people make the uncertain trips at their own risk.
Buhari said this during a joint press conference he had with the visiting German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said his administration had made it clear to all that care to listen that it would not support any illegal acts.
He, however, said the government would bring back those who are trapped in Libya in-between Nigeria and their final destinations.
The President said, “Firstly, I am against those my countrymen and women that illegally travel to Europe.
Chancellor Merkel and President Buhari addressing the press after their meeting in Abuja on Friday / Photo: Screenshot/FRANCE24
“I believe you know the ECOWAS protocol encourages free movement of persons, goods and services. But for those going to Europe, we are not, as an administration, agreeing with those who continue to defy the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean because they feel there are greener pastures there, whether they are prepared for it or not.
“We do not support anything illegal and indiscipline. You must recall that about six weeks ago, we repatriated about 3,000 Nigerians that were stuck in Libya on their way to Europe.
“You must have read in the newspapers and watch on the television the number of Nigerians lost in the Mediterranean.
“We have made it very clear that we do not support anything illegal and anybody who feels this country does not offer him what he should be offered as a citizen, and decides to defy the desert and the Mediterranean, is doing it at his own risk.
“But if he is stuck somewhere in Libya between his final destination and Nigeria, we will rescue him and bring him back home and send him back to his local government.”
The German Chancellor, in her remarks, earlier said she and Buhari discussed the 2019 general elections and the need for the exercise to be free and fair.
She expressed the belief that the elections would impact positively on the nation’s youths.
Merkel also noted the security challenges currently facing Nigeria and commended the present administration for its efforts to tackle the Boko Haram sect.
She described Nigeria as a very important country in Africa, hence the need to maintain good and cordial relationship.
Merkel wrapped up her tour of three African nations, which also took her to Senegal and Ghana, in Abuja. She said her goals during the visit were two-fold: to promote business ties with Germany and to curb the wave of migration from the continent to Europe.
Merkel’s Nigerian stop came two days after that of British Prime Minister Theresa May. The UK leader announced a project with France to help Nigeria, the region’s powerhouse, and neighbouring Niger to improve border cooperation along a key migration route.
Kola Tella with agency reports