Libyan returnees may include terrorists – NEMA Director

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Director-General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mustapha Maihaja, has said that terrorists might be amongst Nigerians being evacuated from Libya to Nigeria.

This was even as the Comptroller-General of Immigration, Mohammed Babandede, has also said the grand total of persons deported to Nigeria in 2017 from across the world is 16,387.

Recall that a total number of 485 Nigerians from Libya were received in Port Harcourt, on Sunday, by the Federal Government, even as 545 returnees were expected in the country on Monday.

Speaking during a press briefing by the Federal Government Fact-Finding Delegation to Libya at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja, Maihaja said the different security agencies would profile the returnees in order to ascertain their true identity.

Maihaja specifically said the returnees would be profiled by the Nigeria Immigration Service, Directorate of State Service and all other agencies to get the actual profile of the returnees.

“Some of them that have criminal tendencies, will be taken care of by the relevant agencies.

“Some that are identified to be really criminals or some of them were told that could have ISIS inclination, would also be taken care of,” Maihaja said.

While further saying that the operation was a very serious one, Maihaja added that the Nigerian authorities did not even know the status of the returnees before evacuating them from Libya.

“It has to be revisited and reviewed and be sure that when they are finally released into the society, they cannot constitute nuisance,” Maihaja stated.

Speaking earlier, Maihaja said NEMA was charged with the strategising, planning and operational activities of the illegal Europe migrants through Libya.

He said three operational blocks were activated just before the Christmas which include the fact-finding and negotiation mission team; operational secretariat domiciled in NEMA and the reception center.

On his part, the Comptroller-General of Immigration, Mohammed Babandede, said Nigerians in Libya consisted of trafficked persons, smuggled persons, irregular migrants and Nigerians who are legally living in Libya.

Babandede further gave a breakdown of the numbers of returnees from Libya and other parts of the world, saying that a total number of 16,387 Nigerians have been repatriated between January 2017 and January 2018.

“I want to state that in 2017 alone, I don’t want people to look at just being strict, we have received in our country, deportees specifically from Libya, 5908. Only from Libya last year.

“So, if you add to the number we received yesterday; yesterday we received 485 from Libya. If you total it, it will give you 6,393 deportees we received from Libya.

“The ratio is very interesting between male and female. The one for yesterday, the males, 398; females 84; children 3. And if you put the total aggregate from January to December and this is January; so, one year plus one month, it will be interesting to find out that the deportees from Libya, 3498 were men; 2684 were females, minors 211 which shows the ratio between males and females in Libya is almost balance. This should be of interest,” Babandede said.

Babandede also said surprisingly, Nigeria had returnees totalling 3836 deportees from Saudi Arabia in 2017 alone.

“The ratio is very interesting for Saudi Arabia. Males, only 395; females, 2331. See the ratio is higher in Saudi Arabia, so we need to…; Children, 1110. So, the total number of deportees we had from Saudi Arabia is 3836.

“From other countries, you know Europe has been deporting, the highest number comes from South Africa, Italy and Austria.

“The total number we have from other countries is greater than the one in Libya, 6643.

“So, grand total of persons deported to Nigeria in 2017 is 16,387. We are afraid this might continue and it will be higher in 2018,” Babandede said.

Leader of the Federal Government Fact-Finding delegation to Libya and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said very influential and powerful people were behind the Libyan human trafficking, saying that the Libyan affair needed both political and diplomatic engagements.

Onyeama said Libya is currently almost a failed state with different centers of power in the country.

Onyeama added the Central Government that is recognised by the United Nations and the African Union, had no full control of the territory of Libya, adding that a lot of the migrants were in the areas controlled by rebels and other forces.

“The political engagement is extremely important and the diplomatic engagement because the criminal element involved in this trafficking and this migration question means that a lot of our children are nothing more than property, commodities being monetized, sold to work in various parts of Libya; traded, sexually abused and exploited for profit of different people, including Nigerians.

“So, there are very influential and powerful people who have an interest in these young boys and girls not returning to Nigeria because they are economic assets for them,” Onyeama said.

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