By Solomon Ayado and Ebriku John Friday, Abuja
The Senate on Thursday, ordered Committees on Diaspora, Foreign Affairs and Special Duties to investigate the death of 26 Nigerian girls aboard a Spanish Warship on the Mediterranean Sea heading towards Italy.
They were mandated to properly investigate and report back an report back to the Senate within four weeks.
The order by the Senate came on after the motion moved by the Senator representing Cross River North, Dr Rose Oko, who also doubles as Chairman, Senate Committee on Diaspora and Nongovernmental Organisations.
Sen Oko who was visibly upset and angry over the death of the girls said it was high time the government move into action to unravel the cause of death and those behind it and also to ensure the matter was pursued into a logical conclusion
She also called on the government to put in place policies that would engage young Nigerians in the country and not to risk their lives across the Sahara Desert and crossing the dreaded Mediterranean Sea to seek greener pasture in Europe.
She said: “Concerned that as at May, 2017 it was reported the about 10,000 Nigerians had perished along the Sahara desert – Libya – Mediterranean Sea route.
“Horrified that on Monday, 6th November, 2017 , an international and national media reported the gruesome story of the dead bodies of twenty-Six (26) young Nigerian girls of ages 14-18 discovered in a Spanish war ship ‘CANTABRIA’ carrying 375 migrants. 23 of them had been on a rubber boat with 64 others.
“Even more horrifying is the suspicion that they had been sexually abused and murdered. Italian prosecutors who have begun investigation into their death have arrested an Egyptian and a Libyan as suspects.
“Worried that this mass exodus of our children from the relative safety and security of home to the often cold hands of death have arisen and are increasing as a result of the economic hardships at home including the unemployment situation in Nigeria.
‘It is time to go beyond the mere feeling of horror to taking pro-active, urgent and emergency measures to address the root causes of the exodus, including massive enlightenment on the dangers that it portends.
“An inter-agency cooperation and collaboration is urgently needed by government to address this problem.”
Meanwhile, she also commended the Italian authorities for immediately stepping into the matter with the hope of resolving the murders as she called on the government to set up an inter-agency committee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nigerian Immigration Service, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and any other relevant agencies to immediately work out a strategy to stem the tide of illegal migration to Europe.
Being member of the Senate Committee on Education Sen Oko tasked the government to declare a state of emergency on unemployment in the country and come out with more pro-active measures to engage the teaming youth.
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