The International Organisation for Migration on Friday said no fewer than 16,800 illegal migrants had returned to Nigeria under its joint initiative with the European Union from 2017 to date.
Cyprne Cheptepkeny, the Project Officer, Awareness Raising, IOM, made this known during a town hall meeting to promote safe migration in Benin, Edo State.
The theme of the town hall meeting was: “Local Opportunities as Panacea for Changing Illegal Migration Practices.”
Cheptepkeny said Edo State accounted for 40 per cent of the total number of returned illegal migrants, while Delta and Ogun States accounted for 13 and 6 per cent respectively, among others.
She noted that the town hall was to provide a platform for migrants as messengers to share their experiences and sensitise potential migrants on the dangers inherent in engaging in illegal migration.
“Sharing videos and experiences is one key activities we do, using migrants as messengers to sensitise targeted audience,” she said.
Also speaking, Arome Salifu, the Executive Director, Africa Youth Growth Foundation, urged potential migrants to acquire adequate skills and travel through the proper channels.
Salifu said: “Migration is not a crime but people should learn to do it with dignity.
“Before you travel, you must make sure that you acquire skills that will sustain you.
“Follow due process and channels.”
He called on all stakeholders to focus on youth development by encouraging them to acquire skills.
He explained that many countries had shut their doors against foreigners, adding that only those who were ready to contribute to the economy of such countries were given the opportunity to migrate to the countries.
According to Salifu, as a foundation, it has written to so many countries for them to change their immigration policies to reduce the menace of illegal migration.
He said: “We are also calling on our government to live up to expectations in governance and prioritise the development of its people.
“If not we will continue to have these kinds of discussions.”
Ijeoma Uduak, the Benin Zonal Commander of the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, thanked IOM and other partners for organising the town hall meeting.
Uduak noted that the Benin command of the agency had sentenced nine people to different jail terms for human trafficking.