The Federal Government issued a warning on Monday to Nigerians, particularly the youth, about the implications of illegal immigration, or “Japa,” which is a term used locally to refer to those fleeing poverty and oppression.

The government asked Nigerians who wanted to move to do so within the bounds of the law while adamant that it does not support irregular migration.

These were said in Abuja at the opening of the EuroAfrica Polish Language Center by Ambassador Akinremi Bolaji, Director of Economic Trade and Investment in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

He claimed that the lack of basic skills and attitude of many young people traveling overseas led to their mistreatment.

He said, “The government does not encourage irregular migration. But we do understand that it is part of fundamental human rights to move. That is why government places emphasis on ensuring that whoever desires to move, does that within the remit of law.

“Countries want what you have, but they just want you to come legally or documented. And that is why you need registered services like EuroAfrica, that are known with the government and regulatory organisations to assist you.

“Such organisations can organise the right pathway for you to travel. But you see when you say ‘Japa’ if you go to another man’s country without entering the place properly, you will be ill-treated and the law will find it very difficult to support you. This is why we are raising it loud and clear that nobody is trying to impede anyone’s freedom of travel but, you must have something, like a basic knowledge.”

Bolaji claimed that because the victims frequently traveled illegally, the majority of reports on the mistreatment of Nigerians were not adequately documented.

“Now, all the records of ill-treatment that we receive is because most of our people did not properly migrated. If you are documented at the Ministry of Labour and Employment, when you are traveling and you are documented by National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and Other Related Matters and we know the employer who is the agent that is taking you away, then if your host mistreats you, we will be able to trace such host. But when you travel illegally then it becomes a challenge,” he stated.

Bolaji emphasized the necessity of language interchange when discussing the significance of the EuroAfrica Polish Language Center and the need to expand international economic cooperation.

He declared, “People to people connections are the deepest kind of ties that nations yearn for, and Africa is now essential to Europe, but language has always been a barrier.

“With this Center here, I’m also believing that somewhere in Poland, they will start learning how to speak Yoruba or Hausa because we are one people and we need each other. They come to Lagos to do business. It will be easier for them if they learn how to speak Yoruba, so this is just a stepping stone.

“If you go to Poland, it is a white environment, white culture, and their language is what they speak. So once you come in without being able to say anything, they will know that you’re a stranger. And if your paper is not correct, then you run the risk. And so this is very good that it is trying to bring up the service.

“So rather than encouraging ‘Japa’, this initiative is going to encourage proper regular migration, labour migration and encourage record keeping and government would be able to know the number of citizens that have gone out, where they are, in which industry are they serving, and who is their employer.

The Co-founder of the Centre, Aleksandra Alayande, said the benefits of learning Polish or more than one language could make one’s résumé stand out where there are competitions.