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The Menace Of Foreign Domestic House Helps

Posted: Jun 21, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Recently, there were news reports of a Nigerian mother, Mrs. Omowunmi Fadojutimi, who in a bid to make life easier for herself, reportedly employed 34-year-old Victor Hounkpe, a Beninoise as cook. She had previously employed David Amusu, also a Beninoise as a cook in the same casual manner.Amusu later introduced Hounkpe, his friend, when he had to leave. However, Amusu and Hounkpe’s desire to dispossess the family of valuable possessions, led them to put a substance that they thought had soporific effect, but instead turned out to be poisonous, into a meal prepared by Hounkpe for the Fadojutimis. Both Mr. and Mrs. Fadojutimi were saved from premature death by a hair’s breadth. This is one of several incidents, working class Nigerians have had to encounter in their quest for domestic helps.

The need for people to go to work while their domestic responsibilities are consigned to paid helps, so that they could concentrate on their jobs, has become a daunting task leading to many Nigerians admitting miscreants who pass off as house helps, into their homes.

Nigerians have been warned on several occasions by the authorities not to just pick anybody off the streets in the name of domestic helps, without investigating, formalising and legalising the relationship. The Nigeria Police has constantly advised members of the public to avail themselves of the services of the command in profiling would-be employees, especially when they are going to be domestic assistants. But most people cannot be bothered, or consider such bureaucracy too lengthy and time consuming

The result is that so many families have been traumatised by the sour experience such loose relationships have brought upon them.

Though the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Protocol supports free movement, perhaps as a way of proper monitoring and scrutiny of these house helps, there is still a need for International Passport or ECOWAS Travel Certificate, ETC, when travelling from one country to another. This helps to document the movement of people at the border posts, sea or air ports.

Nigerian Immigration Service demands that an ECOWAS citizen who seeks work in Nigeria must have a Resident Card, alongside the Passport or Travel Certificate and that the potential Nigerian employer should take the responsibility of obtaining the Resident Card for the ECOWAS citizen.

However, we think the potential Nigerian employer should have a letter from the prospective employee’s guarantor while  his community leader in Nigeria should also stand as surety. With all these steps put in place by the relevant authorities, we believe that Nigerians are protected enough legally.

But, our penchant for blatant disregard for laws which rears its ugly head in so many other circumstances, makes us actually conspire with foreigners to do us harm in the name of rendering domestic assistance.

When a Nigerian decides to be nonchalant about making such vital information about a foreigner available, such a person is in fact acting as an accomplice and is as culpable as the foreigner working without a Resident Card, because the action is equivalent to shielding such an employee from being recognised as a resident in the country.

Perhaps to save us from ourselves, there is need for the government to emulate some countries that have introduced penalties for employers found engaging undocumented immigrants. Indeed there should be  unlimited fines or jail sentences for employers acting knowingly.