By Agaka Habibat Olajumoke
Many a times, we have heard cases of human exploitation in Nigeria, but are there steps taken to eradicate this evil dealing? According to research, Nigeria is a well-known source country for international human trafficking and it has started long ago, and which is still in existence. People have been reported missing, homes have been shattered and tears have been shed due to this evil act, but does it stop the act? No, instead many more cases are being reported to the proper authorities, Customs, National Agency for The Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and Nigerian Police, NAPTIP, established to provide shelters for human trafficking victims and to apprehend the culprits, received 662 cases for investigation and completed 116, which left others unsolved.
However, it is important to note that the fault of successful human trafficking not being eradicated is not with the authorities alone. We also take faults in it by being easily enthusiastic over deceitful promises of work or education in the city, the zeal to live in affluence, and living comfortably. These were the promises made to those girls and boys, and they ended up being recruited into brothels and strip clubs or sent out to prostitution in the streets, or sold into domestic servitude or forced them to work on farms or in factories with little or no pay. These victims of trafficking often have to endure physical and psychological abuse and are under threats of physical harm or deportation.
The traffickers are inhuman and barbaric in order to live in affluence; they sold their souls to the devil and exploit their fellow Nigerians. The international organization for migration confirmed that around 11,000 women and children who arrived by sea in Italy in 2016 were from Nigeria and they are victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation. These victims suffer from different infection contamination and disease such as Hepatitis, Syphilis and HIV, psycho injuries and even death. Very often psychological damage stays for the whole life of the victims.
A case of a 15-year old girl, Jane name changed to protect her identity. She got abducted when was 8-year old. She was taken from her village and trafficked to Gabon, via Cameron. She was abused, exploited, and refused education and care; she had to work, selling items like cigarettes, kola nuts and liquor at a street corner. Jane’s experience was no different from that of thousands children who are victims of trafficking in Nigeria every year. She engaged in domestic chores including laundry and cooking for a woman who bought her from the traffickers in Cameron. Her case was reported to the Nigeria embassy in Libreville, Gabon which facilitated the intervention of the Woman Trafficking and child Labor Eradication Foundation (WOTCLEF); a UNICEF assisted NGO engaged in the rehabilitation of girls trafficked abroad for wither forced labor or prostitution. Eventually Jane and five Nigerians kids were rescued and flown home. It was the end of Jane’s nightmare.
Human trafficking will exist until there is demand. The whole world is struggling with it, our country is no exception. Nigeria continues its effort to protect trafficking victims. Police, customs, immigration and NAPTIP officials systematically employed procedures to identify victims among high-risk persons, and to punish the traffickers. Various government agencies refer victims to NAPTIP for sheltering. NAPTIP launches application to fight human trafficking called iReport that allows people to report cases of human trafficking in Nigeria.
Poverty, the zeal of live in affluence and to acquire wealth at all means is not solely responsible for the increase in human trafficking in Nigeria, other factors such as negligence, peer pressure and greed are also responsible. Nigerians need to go back to the moral of bringing up their children uprightly and discouraging the ‘living in quick affluence’ syndrome in order to also make the effort of putting a stop to the exploitation of Nigerians by the authorities possible and successful.