The Federal Government has warned Nigerians, particularly students, not to travel to troubled Northern Cyprus, where gross human rights violations are currently occurring.
Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Nigeria Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), gave this advice Thursday during a press briefing at the State House in Abuja, saying that over 20 Nigerian students have been killed in the area despite warnings to students to avoid the area.
The NiDCOM chief, who provided an update on the Commission’s activities, expressed regret that Nigerians are being killed on a daily basis in Northern Cyprus, with no one able to intervene due to the European enclave’s political situation.
Northern Cyprus, officially the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, is a de facto state that occupies the island of Cyprus’s northeastern region.
Northern Cyprus is only recognized by Turkey, but the international community considers it to be part of the Republic of Cyprus.
Dabiri-Erewa stated that there was little that could be done diplomatically to resolve the situation of Nigerians in Northern Cyprus because the international community does not recognize Northern Cyprus as a country.
She explained that Northern Cyprus lacks a strong mechanism that would allow the Federal Government to seek justice for the over 20 Nigerian students who have been killed there.
“Honestly, there have been a lot of problems in Northern Cyprus,” she says. So we had young people come up to us and say, ‘Please tell everyone to stop going to Northern Cyprus.’ We did this a while ago, and some people commented, ‘How can you tell people not to go?’ And I’ll say it again: if you’re thinking about visiting Northern Cyprus, think twice.
“Over the years, over 20 students have been killed, and nothing has happened.” As a result, some of these students came forward and stated that they needed to launch an awareness campaign. Do not visit these locations. Only Turkey recognizes Northern Cyprus. It is not a UN-recognized country.
“As a result, there is not much we can do. Every day, one of our students is killed, but nothing is done. I will therefore reiterate my call for us to adopt a firm stance regarding regions like Northern Cyprus.
While acknowledging the unrest in some areas of the nation, the head of NiDCOM noted that it was only a temporary problem and that the federal government was taking all appropriate action to address it.
Dabiri-Erewa expressed confidence that anyone investing in the nation among the Diasporans will receive a return on their investments by pointing out that the Nigerian security forces have recently been bombarding terrorists in the determined effort to end their menace.
Dabiri-Dabiri-Erewa assured some Nigerians in the diaspora that their business interests in the nation won’t be jeopardized by insecurity by saying that the problems with security are only short-term.
She pointed out that the nation received $20 billion in remittances in 2021 despite the security issue.
The $17 billion that was noted in 2020 was increased to this amount.
Additionally, she reaffirmed that the federal government was contributing to the return to normalcy even though Nigeria’s security forces had recently made progress against terrorists.
More than $20 billion has been sent to Nigeria. Although we are aware that these remittances are for families, they have had a sizable positive impact on the Nigerian economy.
The NiDCOM Chairman noted with satisfaction that Nigerians in the Diaspora are succeeding in a variety of fields outside of the country and sending back sizable sums of money. He added that the Nigerian government has made it clear that it would not permit any Nigerian to suffer for a crime he did not commit in foreign nations.
Dabiri-Erewa urged Nigerians to refrain from saying anything that might damage their nation’s reputation.
She urged Nigerian students everywhere to sign up for its diaspora data portal identification portal so that foreign missions could quickly recognize them in an emergency.
She said: “Data is important. We can now launch a data portal for the diaspora. The online portal is now accessible. The launch took place last year with the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in attendance. We’re urging Nigerians living abroad to log in.
We also explain to our students that we are taking this action because many of them do not want to travel to the missions. Tell the missions you are there wherever you go. You start scurrying around when trouble arises. We witnessed the events in Ukraine and at COVID. Therefore, it’s critical that we always know where you are.
In response to inquiries about voting by Nigerians living abroad, the CEO of NiDCOM referred to President Muhammadu Buhari as a president who was friendly to the diaspora and emphasized that it was the Independent National Electoral Commission’s responsibility to permit such voting.
She urged Nigerians living abroad to lobby lawmakers to create the necessary legal framework to make this possible.
She stated: “Mr. President has stated on numerous occasions that he is not opposed to diaspora voting. INEC has stated that they are not opposed to voting by diaspora. We should just keep making appeals to the National Assembly, in my opinion.
“INEC will make the decision. The National Assembly, not so. Allow the National Assembly to grant INEC the authority to begin voting among the diaspora once the necessary infrastructure is in place.
“I recognize the concerns and feelings because our elections are still far from perfect. We’re still testing things out. I’m trying to say that we need to sit down again, examine these fears, and figure out how to handle them.
I’ll say to the diaspora, “Make it your agenda, even for yourself. Speak with the legislature whenever you see it. It involves appealing to, explaining, and lobbying for those fears. For instance, they questioned where I counted votes from the diaspora. And there is an easy solution. Everyone has a home state. Therefore, if a Lagosian casts a ballot in London, it counts in Lagos.