Obaseki reels gains in tackling illegal migration, human trafficking as Edo, IOM expands operational base in Benin

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The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has rolled out his government’s successes in tackling human trafficking in the last six years, reassuring that his government will continue to strengthen the legal framework and institutions to stamp out the menace in the state.

Obaseki, who spoke while inaugurating the new office of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Benin City, said his government will sustain the collaboration with the IOM and other partners to combat illegal migration and human trafficking and all other forms of modern-day slavery in the state.

The governor said, “Since 2018, when the IOM moved its central base to Benin City for better coordination, its effort to stem the tide of illegal Migration and human trafficking was better appreciated. The work of this organization, particularly fortifying migration governance to promote legal migration and support returnees and victims of illegal migration has achieved positive results.

“For the support, assistance, and cooperation received from IOM, the Edo State Government may not have been able to set up its task force to tackle human trafficking and illegal migration. We appreciate the support of IOM and the collaboration received by my administration so far. We have gone through a lot alongside your staff to receive, resettle and reintegrate returnees into our communities. We will continue to appreciate you and work with you until we are finally able to resolve the issues of human trafficking and irregular migration in Edo State.”

He continued: “In 2016 when we came to office, we were confronted with statistics of a large number of our youths who migrated illegally overseas and fell victim to human trafficking and it was a major battle to turn the tide. Edo was an epicenter of this disturbing trend which has been a challenge due to governance failures amongst other factors. However, we were resolute to tackle the challenges and find a dependable partner in IOM.

“We accepted we had a problem and agreed we have a major challenge in our hands and went ahead to solve this problem working with IOM and other partners and the menace has graphically reduced. IOM can attest to the fact that Edo State is no longer the leading state for illegal migration.

“Through the Edo State Trafficking in Persons and Prohibition Law, with the assistance of the IOM, we have built institutional mechanisms for checking the trend and reassuring the reintegration of returnees back into our society. We are delighted that IOM is expanding its operational base in the State by opening this new office and upgrading its facilities and we believe this will enhance their capacity to support their programmes and our programmes aimed at tackling this problem and challenges.”

Earlier, the IOM Deputy Director-General for Operations, Ugochi Daniel, thanked the Governor and Government of Edo State for collaborating with IOM to tackle the menace of human trafficking and irregular migration in Edo.

Daniel noted, “Opening this new center in Benin is significant and it reflects our relationship with the state government over the years. Edo State remains the heart of migration in Nigeria and it is important for us to establish a center in a community where migration has driven development. A center in Edo State means we are close to our clients’ base in the South-South and South-East.

“It’s our hope that this new center will lead us to new programming areas to complement the support and vision of the Edo State Government. We pledge to continue to support the vision of the state government.”

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