Today, the global community is battling, though in different measure, the menace of human trafficking that has become an cause of concern to all. Human trafficking has tarnished Nigeria’s image and subjected thousands of victims to inhumanity. Many have died in the process of being trafficked across international borders, but the fight, over the years is being waged from all fronts.
The international awareness of the crime is on the increase, yet the traffickers continue in their nefarious act in spite of stiffer legislations. Human trafficking, no doubt is an obvious violation of both the constitution and rights of the person being trafficked.
Over the years, Nigeria has been largely seen as the country of origin, transit and destination for human trafficking. Most women and children are being trafficked across the country’s borders for unconscious domestic servitude, commercial sexual exploitation and begging. For instance are the women that are oftentimes taken to various places in the world to be used to generate money for the traffickers. We recall the reported stories of the Nigerian girls repatriated from Libya and Morocco held captive in the commercial sex trade.
Therefore, the reports that no fewer than hundreds of Nigerians are being illegally trafficked to the United Kingdom, where they face sexual exploitation or being forced into domestic servitude came not as a surprise, but worrisome. The United Kingdom’s first independent anti-slavery commissioner, Kevin Hyland, said in a recent chat that Nigeria has been consistently in number 1 or 2 of people trafficked to the UK, and more than 2,000 potential trafficking victims were referred to the authorities in 2014, and 244 of whom were from Nigeria, representing a 31percent increase from the previous year.
The report further added that Nigeria remain consistently in the ‘top one or two’, while other top five countries include Albania, Romania, Vietnam, and Poland. And that about 98 per cent of those trafficked from Nigeria came from one state, Edo State.
Therefore, fighting trafficking in Nigeria is all encompassing, because it requires a need for synergy of efforts to create public awareness of the crime, address the poverty situation in the country, create employment for the youths, reinforce relevant national laws, organise counselling, rehabilitation and reintegration program for the victims and allow them access to government subsidised services for HIV/AIDS and other female reproductive health care programmes.
However, it is important to appreciate that there is a linkage between poverty and human trafficking. Worsening economic hardship in most developing countries, Nigeria inclusive has contributed massively to this problem. Experience has shown that people are trafficked from poor, and economically depressed countries to the developed world.
Although, the lack of education and poor enlightenment are also critical factors, but above all is the collapse of family value system. It is said that some parents even encouraged their children to be trafficked. It is therefore gratifying to note that Nigeria now has one of the most advanced institutional and legal frameworks for combating trafficking in persons worldwide.
Our anti-trafficking legislation and policy promotes the protection of the rights of victims, adheres to the principle of non-criminalisation of victims and provides for their protection and assistance, irrespective of immigration status.
The act also recognises the need for internal cohesion among critical stakeholders in the fight against trafficking in persons and strengthens operational as well as law enforcement’s response to it.
This notwithstanding, human trafficking has grown into big business run by cartels around the world, just like drug trafficking. It is a modern day slavery and man’s inhumanity to man. It is daily becoming more complex an enterprise that ultimately requires stiffer and tough measures to combat. Governments at all levels have a crucial role to play in combating this evil crime. We therefore urge government at all levels to work towards providing good governance and stronger economies to its people, this we believe will stem the tide of human trafficking in the country.