Dr Kingsman Chikelu, the Chairman, Africa chapter of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation has lamented the ordeals faced by illegal migrants travelling by land toward South Africa.
Mr Femi Awoniyi, a Co-Director, Migration Enlightenment Project, Nigeria, an NGO, in a statement on Monday in Abuja quoted Chikelu as saying this during Stakeholders’ Roundtable Dialogue on Migration organised by MEPN.
Chikelu said that the dialogue was organised to brainstorm with civil society groups and other stakeholders on ordeals of travelling without visa by land among Nigerian youths.
He said many Nigerian youths had fallen victims of several conflicts in Cameroon, Central Africa Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo in the course of travelling on land without visa.
“They are simply caught up in these wars and are forced to fight for one side or the other ending up dying for causes they neither supported nor understood,” he said.
He said that young illegal migrants in Africa had suffered extortion by criminals and police as well as trafficked for forced labour and sexual exploitation.
Chikelu said that several of them had been detained for lack of legal travelling documents for long time in the transit countries.
According to him, those who finally make it after a long time suffer difficult living conditions, unemployment, xenophobic attacks and criminal violence.
Chikelu commended MEPN for initiating the dialogue aimed at creating awareness against illegal migration and sensitising youths on the dangers of irregular migration.
He condemned the act of giving out chieftaincy titles to indigenes, who return after a short stay abroad with unexplainable wealth by traditional rulers.
According to him, this practice is one of the factors driving irregular migration as the titles legitimise such illicit wealth, sending a wrong message to the society, especially the young people.
“For instance, in South Africa, most of the Nigerian migrants there are stranded, not wanting to return home empty-handed and simply staying put against all odds.
“Nigeria is the biggest economy in Africa, offering many opportunities to those who are creative and daring.
“So, my advice is that, whoever that is considering travelling out for opportunities should first look well at home before venturing outside the country,” he added.