Thursday, 6 December 2012


There is weight of evidence that more Nigerians are engaged in human trafficking. There is need to tackle the menace
There seems to be no end to the humiliating act of human trafficking in our country. It is even more unfortunate that some of the victims, especially young ladies, are trafficked to smaller West African countries that look up to Nigeria. Only recently, the Nigerian Ambassador to Mali, Mr. Iliya Nuhu, had cause to lament that the problem of human trafficking had grown in magnitude and sophistication to the extent that a good number of Nigerians in his country of posting seemed to be thriving on it. He described the development as akin to modern day slavery with some unscrupulous Nigerians now recruiting from their villages and towns young girls between the ages of 10 and 15 which are then sold into lives of misery. According to the ambassador, about 20 to 30 girls are trafficked to Mali daily, with the promise of securing for them good jobs only to turn them to prostitutes.

There are chilling statistics which suggest that human trafficking has become one of the biggest money making businesses after drug trafficking today. It is therefore rather shameful that our country is regarded not only as a transit route for this illegal trade but also a source as well as a destination with children and young adults, especially of the womenfolk, now becoming merchandise for what has become a cross-border crime.

It is instructive to note that to combat this challenge, the federal government had in 2003 enacted the Trafficking in Persons Law Enforcement and Administration Act. It was amended in 2005 to prescribe more severe penalties for offenders as well as prohibits all forms of human trafficking. Despite that, human trafficking remains a major challenge in our country today while the non-domestication of the Child Rights Act by many states has only compounded the problem.
In what is clearly an organised crime involving international syndicates, human traffickers move their victims to Europe through North Africa by caravan, most often forcing their victims to cross the desert on foot. In the process many die even as the survivors are subjected to all forms of indignity, in the bid to repay the heavy debts owed their “benefactors” by way of travel expenses. But the trade is thriving because while in the past NAPTIP had been able to secure convictions for trafficking offences. That is no longer the case as most of the people involved wield powerful influence with which they circumvent the law.

To tackle the menace, families, voluntary organisations and other stakeholders should join governments, at all levels, in the efforts to provide adequate framework for the protection of the Nigerian child. Even when our country took the right step in establishing the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and related matters (NAPTIP) in 2004, the agency has been downgraded to Tier 2 status because of its inability to maintain its vigour. NAPTIP has been handicapped by influential Nigerians who seek the release of human traffickers and a lack of an ECOWAS framework to collaborate with transit countries.

While we condemn human trafficking, we are of the strong belief that a demonstration of political will to diligently prosecute offenders would serve as deterrent to those engaged in the nefarious trade, irrespective of their social status. There is also a need for a sustained sensitisation of Nigerians, especially in rural areas, on the dangers posed by ‘good Samaritans’ who offer better lives for children away from the watchful eyes of their parents and guardians. A culture where little children are expected to provide for, or supplement, their family upkeep should also be discouraged while the authorities must put in place guidelines on the hiring of domestic household staff through certified agencies

Source: Thisday 06 Dec 2012

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