Nigeria, France to tackle illegal migration, human trafficking


By Yahaya Isah

France has expressed its commitment to strengthen existing relations with Nigeria, especially in tackling illegal migration and human trafficking.

France Ambassador in charge of Migration at the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Mr Christophe Leonzi, made this known when he paid a courtesy visit to the Minister of Interior, Dr Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, on Monday in Abuja.

“We will like to establish more regular dialogue between Nigeria and France, and the two ministries especially in area of illegal migration and how to tackle it headlong.

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“Another area that calls for worry is in the area of human trafficking.

“It will be of immense benefit to both countries if we can cooperate more efficiently in different aspects to stem the tide,” the envoy added.

He said, though the two countries have been cooperating in that area, there was need to delve more into the already existing cooperation.

“Nigeria is a strong partner in this regard, no doubt,” Leonzi said, adding that the cooperation should be reinforced in the area of border security and management.

“If the borders are not porous and the necessary cutting-edge technology, aside human presence, are in place, no doubt it will go a long way to tackle the ugly trend to a reasonable level.

“A good border management brings about certain level of security of a country but a porus border usually brings about vulnerability of a country, especially in terms of security of that country,“ the envoy added.

In his remarks, Tunji-Ojo, said Nigeria would continue to strengthen its relations with France, to make it better and stronger.

“The stronger the relationship the better it is for both countries,” the minister said.

He said that development cooperation between the two countries have been extremely helpful to Nigeria over the years.

“In terms of meeting our goals, targets and of course taking us from where we were to where we are now, I believe that more of this programme will take us to where we actually want to be.

“Regular meetings and visits of this nature are very important for both countries, because when you do not share problems, when you do not talk to share problems, solutions will always be a mirage.

“For instance long before now, Nigerians going to Italy was a big problem, but today, I know building on our interactions, is a different ball game altogether and it will be difficult for any irregular immigrant from Nigeria to stay in Italy.

“This is because if we get you and we identify you, our immigration officer stationed solely in Italy for that purpose would ensure that bringing that person back becomes easier.

“I think in UK too, just two weeks ago, our team just came back from there for our biannual meeting that is of mutual benefit to both countries, especially in the area of irregular migration.

“With this development, we are beginning to see change of status in terms of illegal migration between the two countries.

“So, I align myself 100 per cent with your proposal, I think it’s one that will help us to be more proactive than being reactive.“

The minister added that the major problem the country had over the years, was the government being reactive when it comes to the issue of illegal migration, instead of being proactive.

“So, it means the more we invest our energy on being proactive, the better it is for us,“he said.

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