The Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment has denied accusations that it is complicit in human trafficking involving Nigerian girls to other parts of the world.
The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora, Tolulope Akande-Sadipe, had on Thursday, 16 July, 2020, accused the ministry of illegally issuing licences to private employment agencies, claiming that a moratorium had been placed on the issuance of such licences since 2017.
However, in a statement signed by the Deputy Director, Press in the ministry, Charlse Akpan, the ministry denied any wrongdoing.
It maintained that at no time did any person, body or Committee request the Ministry of Labour and Employment to suspend its statutory duty of issuing recruiters licence to qualified PEAs as being peddled by some uninformed persons.
The ministry explained that it had not issued any recruiters’ licence with respect to the placement of Nigerian citizens abroad in breach of the relevant provisions of the Labour Act CAP L1 2004.
“We challenge anyone making the allegation to produce such moratorium if it exist,” the ministry insisted.
The statement further noted that, to date, no Private Employment Agency (PEA) issued clearance by the ministry had been found to be involved in human trafficking.
According to the statement: “It is on record that none of the trafficked Nigerian girls to Lebanon or any other country is linked to a Private Employment Agency issued Licence and clearance by the Ministry of Labour and Employment.”
The statement reads: “Akande-Sadipe said that on account of the alleged illegalities and irregularities the Ministry employed in the recruitment process, agents were allowed to take Nigerians to Lebanon, a country that lacked a labour pact with Nigeria; girls were allowed to be taken out by agents without the mandatory counselling and orientation, and agents were allowed to operate without annual reports on the domestic staff sent abroad.
”The Ministry is empowered by section 23, 25 and 71 of the Labour Act Cap L1 LFN 2004 to license fit and proper persons to operate as Labour Contractors and Private Employment Agencies.
”As part of the strategies to reduce irregular labour migration whilst promoting regular migration, the Ministry has put in place a Labour Migration Desk to address the associated problems with the movement of skilled and low skilled persons within and outside the country.
“The Desk seeks to ensure and create employment opportunities for Nigerians to work legally abroad, without fear of molestation, exploitation or any form of inhuman treatment or being subjected to unfair labour practices.
”The Ministry of Labour and Employment is guided by the provisions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Migration for Employment Convention No 97, Private Employment Agencies Convention No 181 and its Recommendation No 188 and has taken initial steps required for its ratification.
“One of the basic means of implementing the principles of Convention 181 on Private Employment Agencies is mandatory registration and licensing of Private Employment Agencies.
“It is apparent from Section 25 of the Labour Act CAP L1 2004 that persons who meet the requirements for International Licenses are eligible to engage in domestic recruitment as well.”