Buhari inaugurates 17-man panel on Libyan slave trade

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Buhari

In a bid to stop the continuous exodus of some Nigerians to Libya, with the hope of crossing to the Western world, through the Mediterranean, and also, rescue those who are still trapped in that country, President Muhammadu Buhari has set up a 17-man fact-finding mission.

The team is also expected to, open talks with Libyan authorities, on how to stop the exodus of Nigerians to that country.

The panel has 38 days to evacuate all Nigerians trapped in Libya.

The team, which will leave for Tripoli immediately, is expected to collaborate with the Nigerian mission in Libya.

At least, 5,037 Nigerians have volunteered to return to the country but the number could rise, with the presence of the committee in Libya.

About 6,091 have been brought back to Nigeria from Libya through  collaboration between the National Emergency Management Agency( NEMA) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

The president’s 17-man team is headed by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama.

Others are Comptroller-General of Immigration, Mohammed Babandede, Director General of NEMA, Mustapha Maihaja,  Senior Special Assistant to the President on the Diaspora, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons ( NAPTIP) Director General, Julie Okah-Donli, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, some diplomats and nine members of a sub-technical team.

A source in the Presidency, who declined to be named, said: “This is the first elaborate measure put in place by the Federal Government, under the leadership of President Buhari. Hitherto, NEMA had been managing reception centres for IOM.

“To underscore his commitment, the president has directed that Monitoring and Evaluation desks be opened in his office and that of his deputy, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo’s office. So, there is no room for tardiness at all.

“This evacuation started on December 22 and the execution is planned to end within 38 days.

Another top government  source said: “With the approval of the president, an operational secretariat  has been activated. The secretariat, which is headed by the NEMA DG comprises all stakeholders and security agencies.

“The centre will be guided by an Monitoring and Evaluation Manual, to ensure strict compliance and timely evacuation. The government has established a Reception Centre in Port Harcourt, capital of Rivers State, to receive the over 5, 037 returnees. The Zonal Coordinator of NEMA will manage the centre. Max Air and Medview have been approved as carriers to fly home Nigerians.

“NAPTIP, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, in conjunction with NEMA, will be responsible for the rehabilitation of the returnees.”

“We will receive and profile the returnees, ensure their health status and provide feeding arrangement. The University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital has been placed on the alert, by the Federal Ministry of Health, for appropriate medical attention for returnees in need. It is really a tidier structure,” the source said.

The federal government will work with governors of the returnees’ states, it was also gathered.

The governors have supported this evacuation. After profiling, identification and documentation, the returnees will be handed over to their state governors

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