Nigerian governments have over the years been
battling to curtail one of the social menaces
of our time: that is human trafficking. This
assumed notoriety in the 1990s and the
present millennium, when many Nigerian
youths, especially girls were ferried to Europe because of the
economic difficulties in the country with promises of lucrative
jobs by those who lure them, only for most of them to end up
as prostitutes in hotels and streets in these countries. It was
because of the federal government’s desire to stem this ugly
trend that it established the National Agency for the Prohibition
of Trafficking in Persons ,NAPTIP in 2003. The Agency
was established essentially to prevent human trafficking,
investigate and prosecute human traffickers. Although NAPTIP
has recorded some success in controlling this ugly trend, the
international dimension to trafficking has continued unabated.
The journeys to Europe which is usually undertaken through
North Africa, in particular remain some of the most delicate
and most dangerous in human trafficking. And they have
continued despite the efforts of national and international
agencies to stem what has been described as modern day
slavery. Hundreds of these fortune seekers are made to cross
the Sahara Desert with its extremely harsh weather, while
they also have rampaging marauders,
wild animals, criminal gangs and other criminal elements
to contend with. There is no doubt that NAPTIP has a lot of
work to do to ensure control of the influx of Nigerian youths
to Europe. Of recent, NAPTIP appears overwhelmed by the
enormous challenges of increasing tempo of human trafficking
to Europe and Asia. It is on this account that we should take the
recent call from the United Kingdom for urgent international
collaboration to help the country solve the present challenges,
UK, recently called for urgent international collaboration
to help Nigeria tackle human trafficking challenge at source,
pledging at least five million pounds to the course.UK’s
Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Kevin Hyland,
made the call at the UN Security Council Open Debate on
Modern Slavery over the weekend in New York. Commissioner
Hyland said that women and girls from Nigeria, who were
illegal migrants, were victims of forced labour and sexual
exploitation in detention centres across Libya, in attempt
to get into Europe. He pointed out that for decades,
transnational traffickers have operated in a particular part of
Nigeria, deceiving victims with false promises of better lives
in Europe.
He said that what started as a trickle has now become a flow.
The envoy said that long-established transnational organised
crime groups were also using power vacuums caused by Boko
Haram conflict to increase their trafficking operations.
He said these criminals were taking advantage of conflict and
instability in the Lake Chad Basin and Libya and have
massively scaled up their trafficking operations by utilising
these now ungoverned routes.
He disclosed that in 2016, over 11,000 Nigerian women
arrived in Italy from Libya representing an eightfold increase
from the numbers that arrived in 2014.
Hyland added that The International Organization for
Migration believes that 80 per cent are trafficking victims
destined for brothels across Europe.The UK Commissioner
mentioned a particular State in Nigeria that he visited,
describing it as the main region
where traffickers source their victims.
He painted a horrible picture of the human movement and
tragedy, especially its brutal in nature. He said women who
insisted they would not work as prostitutes were tied up in a
position called ‘the crocodile’ where their hands are tied to their
feet and they are left for days without food or water.
“Some are left to die as an example to others,” he stated.
He disclosed that the UK Government recently announced at
least five million pounds to work in partnership with Nigeria to
help tackle trafficking at source.
Hyland disclosed that some of the Nigerian survivors he met
wanted to tell him more about the identities, tactics and routes
of traffickers but unfortunately this information was not being
routinely collected, analysed or acted on.
The UK Commissioner stressed the need for more action to
be taken to protect the vulnerable.
The Commissioner said that Prime Minister Theresa May had
committed the UK to international leadership in combating
modern slavery, and that unless nless those behind this trade
in human lives were pursued and punished, vulnerable people
will continue to be sourced, used, abused and replaced and
treated as mere commodities.
He therefore urged international organisations and member
states and in particular, law enforcement and intelligence
agencies, to prioritise efforts to increase cross border
collaboration to investigate, disrupt and dismantle human
trafficking networks.Hyland stressed the need for high profile
convictions of the organisers, to act as a deterrent to others.
This, he said, can be achieved, through increased use of joint
investigation teams, multilateral prosecutions and data and
intelligence sharing.
What is more, he said the international community needed
to get smarter at debriefing victims and sensitively sharing
this information with law enforcement and victim support
agencies, to inform disruption and protection efforts,He
strongly welcomed UN Resolution 2331, which called for
‘proactive responses to protect against slavery and trafficking
to be systematically integrated into humanitarian responses to
conflict and related emergencies.
We appreciate the concern of the British government under
the leadership of Theresa May to help tackle the nagging
problem of human trafficking, which is no doubt another form
of modern day slavery.
NAPTIP and other agencies, and bodies should take
advantage of the window of opportunity provided to tackle
this vexing issue , which requires multi-frontal approaches. The
best time to handle it is now.
Group Chairman/Publisher/Editor-in-Chief
Dennis Sami
Osedebamen Isibor

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