By Ray Ugochukwu
The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Seme Border Command, says it is profiling 16 young Nigerians recently repatriated by Ghanaian authorities for alleged cybercrimes.
The young lads, all males with ages ranging between 16 and 24, were handed over to the NIS by the Ghana Economic and Financial Crimes (GEFC), which accused the deportees of traveling illegally without travel documents.
Briefingnews men at the weekend in Seme, the Comptroller, Dr. Chukwemeka Dike, said the 16 young men arrived from Ghana on Wednesday and were received from the Ghanaian authorities in good health, as it appeared.
He said that the 16 young Nigerians, who were either deceived or intentionally went out of the country with the hope of getting greener pastures, had been returned to the country and were being investigated and profiled.
Dike promised that the NIS would do what was best to take care of these youths, saying, “some of them that have been discovered to have actually been victims, we would hand them over to the appropriate quarters. Others, who have in the process of illegal sojourn incriminated themselves, would also have to pay for their attitude”.
Compt. Dike disclosed that he was in close contact with the Ghanaian authorities, who were indicating that they had harvested more Nigerians doing some unwholesome businesses in Ghana. ”We are having some synergy, good collaboration, very good partnership with our counterparts in West Africa”, adding that “we have severally warned and have advised kids, young people growing up to please look at deliberate means of survival, definite means of livelihood”.
He advised that “there’s no place under the earth where everything is free or easy. The truth is that our partnership and synergy with Embassies and High Commissions all over the West Coast of Africa, paid out because these boys were actually harvested and brought back from Ghana and the GEFC is accusing them of cyber crimes”.
On how true the allegation of cybercrime was, Comptroller Dike said, “from our preliminary investigations, we discovered that some of these lads were actually lured or cajoled into such activity but others went out with the intention and mentality of getting rich quick pervading some of our youths but a few persons may have influenced them, like from cursory investigation which shows that most of them were mislead into traveling and could not get the jobs and other things they were promised. In some cases, some even restrained from returning to Nigeria”.
Dike also said that cursory investigations showed “that all of them left through unapproved routes, without requisite and genuine travel documents to get to some West African countries and when they got to Ghana, they became prey and it was easy for authorities to pack them together like this and bring them back to Nigeria. So, what we are saying is that the institution of the Federal Government of Nigeria and by extension, the Nigeria Immigration Service ably led by the Comptroller General, Alh. Idris Isa Jere, prescribe that if you must travel outside Nigeria, it must be with genuine travel documents. The minimum is ECOWAS Travel Certificate (ETC). This will make it legitimate for you to leave the shores of Nigeria to live in any other West African country”.
He explained that “as ECOWAS members, we have a treaty of free movement of goods and persons within the sub-region but the proviso is that you must enter such country through a legitimate entry route and you must have genuine travel documents to travel. It’s also very important that those traveling must have definite means of livelihood; if you don’t, you would be seen as a liability and you will be returned”,
He therefore admonishe that people who travel, must engage in genuine businesses “but the moment you engage in uninterpretable acts and behaviours you are arrested and brought back to Nigeria. So I plead with you young men to change. It’s still early in the day, most of you would say I am an undergraduate, I don’t have anything doing or, I have graduated, I don’t have anything to do. That is not a license to get into criminality. I want to plead with you to change and turn a new leaf, you can do it”.
Some of the returnees, who spoke, admitted that they travelled without documents and that they were all lured by friends or older people who did not fulfill their own side of the bargain.
Michael Obadidi, an 18 year old secondary school leaver from Edo State; Albert Christian, 21, from Edo State; Azama Pascal (Edo) and Opia Samuel from Delta all told the same story of having been deceived into traveling. They advised other young men not to be deceived with the promise of greener pastures in a foreign country only to be lured into Cyber Crime and other acts of illegalities.