The National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, on Tuesday said 643 Nigerians had voluntarily returned from Libya between December 15, 2016 and March 7, 2017.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Muhammad Sidi, the Director General, NEMA, made the disclosure while receiving a fresh batch of 171 Nigerians who arrived in Lagos.
Mr. Sidi, who was represented by Onimode Bandele, the Deputy Director, Search and Rescue, said of the total returnees within the period, 251 were male, and 392 females.
He said the returnees, who were brought back by the International Organisation for Migration, IOM, and the Nigerian Embassy in Libya, include 23 children and infants.
“So what you are witnessing today is the effort of IOM who got in touch with the people over there and the returnees you are seeing today are Nigerians who have shown interest to return voluntarily.
“The new set of returnees are made up of 73 males, 83 females, 12 children and three infants,” Mr. Sidi added.
He advised Nigerians to shun irregular migration, stressing that opportunities abound in the country for them to earn a decent living.
Mr. Sidi said: “We have interviewed some of the returnees and found out that some of them already had training in hair dressing and laundry before embarking on the ill-fated journey.
“Our advice to them is that they can put this to good use and contribute positively to the country.
“We are also happy that some state governments have started showing interest on how to rehabilitate and reintegrate the returnees from their states.”
Also speaking, Sadiya Farouk, Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and IDPs, said the commission would soon embark on a sensitisation programme to encourage Nigerians to stay back home and help develop the country.
NAN reports that the new set of returnees arrived the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, aboard a chartered Buraq Air aircraft with registration number TNSIB (UZ189/190) at about 4.30 p.m.
They were received at the Hajj Camp area of the airport by officers of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), the National Agency for the Protection of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and the Police.
Also on ground to receive them were officials of NEMA and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria.
The returnees were profiled by immigration authorities and were each given a stipend of N19, 695 to facilitate their transportation to their respective states.