GOVERNOR of Edo State, Mr
Godwin Obaseki has charged
religious leaders to lead the fight
against human trafficking using
their influence as spiritual leaders
in society, especially as the illicit
trade enjoys the backing of some
religious leaders in the state.
Obaseki gave the charge when
he hosted Christian leaders to
breakfast at the Government
House in Benin City, the state
capital.
The governor said, “If
government must record success
in the fight against human
trafficking and illegal migration,
all hands must be on deck.”
The meeting is coming on
the heels of a similar charge to
the Italian government and the
European Union to move against
human trafficking cartels in
Europe with strong links in Edo
State fuelling the illicit trade by a
Benin-based non-governmental
organization, the Initiative for
Youth Awareness on Migration
Development and Reintegration,
IYAMIDR, led by Comrade
Solomon Okoduwa.
Obaseki said he called the
meeting with the clergy because
of their spiritual role in the society.
Some of the prominent
clergymen at the meeting
included the Catholic Archbishop
of Benin Metropolitan See, Most
Rev. Augustine Akubueze, and
chairman, Christian Association of
Nigeria, Edo State chapter, Bishop
Oriame Oyonude Kure, among
others.
The clerics spoke separately on
the illicit trade, describing it as a
crime against God and humanity.
They commended the state
government on the steps taken
so far in the fight and pledged to
support the initiative.
Speaking on the antics of
the human trafficking cartel,
Okoduwa, a returnee, who also
leads a coalition of returnees from
Libya and Europe in Edo State,
said “the human trafficking cartels
should be charged for crimes
against humanity considering
the scale of their inhuman and
criminal activities that have led
to the death of many Nigerian
youths on the Mediterranean Sea
and in the Sahara Desert.”
He disclosed that his
organisation had received
intelligence on the plans by the
human trafficking cartels across
Europe and America to build a
strong coalition and raise funds
to scuttle the empowerment and
reintegration programmes of the
Edo State government.
Comrade Okoduwa explained
that one of the strategies of the
human trafficking cartels was
to paint a hopeless picture of the
state of affairs in Edo State, despite
the giant strides of the Governor
Obaseki-led administration in the
areas of job creation and capacity
building for Edo youths, which
have earned him the sobriquet
‘Wake and See Governor.’
He recalled a video that is
trending on social media in which
the trafficking cartel was soliciting
funds from their colleagues they
call sponsors or madams, and calling victims of trafficking “rats
that are in the streets of Italy.
“These traffickers, including
one hoodlum called Eranomigho
Edegbe, have embarked on an
aggressive fabrication of falsehood
against the Edo State Government
on social media, in a bid to protect
their illicit trade in human beings.
They are manipulating their
gullible victims to raise funds for
them to execute their campaign
of calumny against the Edo State
Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki,”
he said.
He further said that the
traffickers instill fear and a sense
of insecurity in their victims
by threatening them that Edo
State government had signed
an agreement with the Italian
government to deport them.
According to Okoduwa,
“The strategy is working for
the trafficking cartels who have
raised huge funds and smiling
to the banks daily. We wish to
put on record, that to the best of
our knowledge, the Edo State
government has not signed any
agreement to deport people from
Europe. This falsehood is the
creation of the trafficking cartels
and their sole aim is to stop the
campaign against illegal migration
by the Edo State government that
has led to the death of thousands
of Edo people.”
He further said: “We have
uncovered a plot by these
criminals to stage a protest march
to the Nigerian Embassy in Italy
next Monday, as part of their effort
to put the Edo State government
in bad light. We urge the Italian
and European governments to
move against them, investigate
their businesses and throw them
into jail to serve as deterrent to
others who may be contemplating
floating a similar ring. “
He commended the Obasekiled
administration for rising to
the occasion by coming up with
several empowerment initiatives
for the reintegration of the
returnees, adding that Edo people
were proud and hardworking
people and assured that his
organisation would continue to
fight the few individuals who are
determined to drag the image of
Edo people in the mud because of
their selfish and criminal ventures.

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