The Comptroller General of the Nigerian Immigration Service Muhammadu Babandede has disclosed that a total of 16,387 Nigerians were deported from different countries in 2017.
Of this figure, Babandede said 5,980 Nigerians were evacuated from Libya, 3,836 from Saudi Arabia while South Africa and other European countries deported 6,643 Nigerians in 2017.
He was speaking at a joint press conference by the Federal Government delegation to Libya who were on a fact finding mission with a mandate to secure the release of Nigerian migrants stranded in the North African country.
The delegation is led by the Minister of Foreign Minister Affairs Geoffrey Onyema and comprising the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora Abike Dabiri-Erewa and Comptroller General of the Nigerian Immigration Service Muhammadu Babandede.
Others are Director General National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons Julie Okah-Donli and Federal Commissioner National Commission for Refugees Sadiya Umar Faruq.
485 returnees were evacuated from Libya on Sunday, making the deportees from the North African country 6,393.
“From January 2017 to January 2018 which is one year one month, deportees from Libya were made up of 3,498 men; 2,684 women, 211 minors,” the immigration boss said.
The 3,836 Nigerian deportees from Saudi Arabia comprised of 395 men, 2,331 women and 1,110 children, he said.
The highest number of Nigerians deported in 2017 came from South Africa, Italy and Austria, he added.
He therefore said that there need to educate parents that “Europe is not a paradise, that the desert is hot, and the sea is not a river to cross.”
Also speaking, the NEMA boss Engr Mustapha Maihaja disclosed that 545 Nigerian migrants from Libya are expected to arrive the country yesterday.
He said the returnees were among the 5, 037 stranded Nigerians identified for evacuation back home.
They would be formally received at the reception centre in Port Harcourt, Rivers State where they profiled before being transported to their various states, he said.
Speaking earlier, The Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama acknowledged that the leadership crisis in Libya affects the processes to secure the evacuation.
“There are different centres of power in that country. The central government recognized by the UN and AU does not have full control of the territories controlled by rebels,” he said.
He said there are over 50 detention camps in Libya, some of them not under the control of the UN-backed government.
He said there are complaints about how some migrants in detention camps are being exploited by government officials for economic gains.
The Nigerian mission in Libya is coordinating the identification of the Nigerian migrants with the support of the International Organization for Migration and are being joined by a technical team comprising representatives from NEMA, Immigration and other all relevant government agencies.
Two indigenous carriers are engaged for the evacuation exercises of stranded Nigerians from Libya.