By Jite Eriabie
At least 257 Nigerians were returned from Libya on Tuesday night.
The deportees touched down at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos and were received by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) at around 10 p.m.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) accompanied the Nigerian returnees back to the country.
The majority of the returnees were women, numbering 245. There were also four men, six infants, and two children.
The returnees had entered Libya through several illegal routes and had hoped to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in search of greener pastures, but most of them were stranded in the North African country and could not follow through with their plans.
On arrival in Lagos, the returnees were handed over to the Zonal Coordinator of NEMA, Southwest, Suleiman Yakubu, on behalf of the federal government.
The Director-General of NEMA, Mustapha Maihajja, represented by the zonal coordinator, enjoined the returnees to embrace the ‘change’ mantra of the federal government and be positive in returning the nation to its years of glory.
He also urged them to contribute their quotas to the development of the nation rather than seeking opportunities abroad, stressing that most who successfully crossed to Europe and other parts of the world are regretting their actions.
Maihajja assured them that no one would treat them as second-class citizens in Nigeria, unlike in foreign countries such as Libya where they would be denied certain benefits and rights, especially those that are illegal migrants.
Other officials at the tarmac to receive the returnees were the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), the Department of State Security (DSS), Nigeria Police Force, Aviation Security (AVSEC), Port Health from the Federal Ministry of Health, and the National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).
No fewer than 4,281 Nigerians were deported from various countries in the first half of 2017 through the airport.
An official document revealed that between January and June 2017, 2,251 Nigerians were deported through chartered flights, mainly from Libya and a few European countries.
The breakdown revealed that 1,321 of them were males while the other 930 deportees were females.
For those deported through regular flights, a majority of them were from Europe, South Africa and other countries on the African continent. The report put their total figures at 2,030 Nigerians.
According to the document, there were 1,502 males deported in the first half of the year while 528 others were female.
“Some of these deportees engaged in criminal activities in their host countries. For these sets of people, they were handed over to the Nigeria Police for further investigation and prosecution.
“Also, some of them were caught were they tried to traffic banned substances to various countries in Europe, North America and other African countries. For these sets of people, they are immediately handed over to the officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) at the Lagos airport, but for those with civil offenses, they are given to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (NAPTIP),” the document read.
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