Andy Esiet, Calabar
Experts have declared that virtually all the states of Nigeria are endemic on issues of human trafficking hence the need for change of attitude by Nigerians.
This was the position of experts at the end of a 3-day media training workshop on “Countering Trafficking In Persons, (CTIP), organized by Network Against Child Trafficking, Abuse and Child Labour, (NACTAL) in collaboration with USAID that ended in Benin, Edo state, recently for journalists from Cross River and seven other states of the federation including Abuja.
The National President NACTAL, Abdulganiyu Abubakar in his remarks at the workshop said as result of the endemic nature of human trafficking in Nigeria, “some countries discriminate against Nigeria when the lord travel out”.
He said that trafficking in humans has brought about stigma and discrimination and large number of persons like the survivors, family members, friends, spouses, slaves, drug users, migrant population, street kids, CSOs, counsellors and many others are affected.
Accordingly, he charged the media to step up campaign through publications and programmes in their various media houses and help reduce issues of trafficking through their write ups and programmes.
The National Agency for Prohibition Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has raised alarm over the high level of human trafficking in the country as the agency has up to date rescued and sheltered, 17, 753 victims in Nigeria.
The Zonal Commander of NAPTIP, Benin Zonal Command, Mr. Nduka Nwanwanne stated that out of the figure, 13,626 are female while 4,727 were males. This figures are as at May 2022.
Worried about the alarming rate of human trafficking, he said that “not fewer than 25,000 Nigerian women and girls are trapped living in shanties in the mining areas in Mali where they are sexually exploited” .
To date since the first conviction in Benin, Edo state by Justice Constance Momo, he said NAPTIP has secured 530 convictions plus seven new ones that were convicted on December 7, 2022 by Justice A. A. Adewememo of the Industrial Court of Nigeria, Benin thus bringing total convictions in the country to 700.
He said that prostitution is not human trafficking but the exploitation in prostitution is human trafficking and Nigeria is a transit and destination nation on human trafficking as “human trafficking is endemic in Edo and Delta states and all parts of the country are affected “
Nwanwanne urged states in Nigeria to take steps to domesticate the various laws against human trafficking noting that the country is a signatory to the Palamo Protocol of 2000 to prevent, supress, and punish trafficking in especially women and children and the Operation Timbuktu of 2011
According to him the trade on human trafficking is worth 150 billion dollars in global criminal enterprise and it is the second largest in trans national organized crime after drug trafficking.
He said the big challenge NAPTIP has is a situation were rescued victims or survivors of trafficking become traffickers hence he urged young people especially girls to be patient, stay home, go to school and develop themselves saying it is the duty of their parents to cater for the children at young age.
In view of this, Nwanwnene charged stakeholders in the media industry to intensify awareness and sensitization of the public against trafficking in persons lamenting that despite the huge sensitization and awareness created by government and media agencies against human trafficking, majority of young people are still not informed about the risks and dangers involved.
He identified poverty, illiteracy/ignorance, economic hardship, lack of opportunities at home, parental pressures among others, as root causes, adding that the risk; loss of life, health risks, emotional and psychological breakdown, unwanted pregnancy, among others, outweighs the benefits.
One of the NACTAL resource persons, Nasiru Muazu Isa, said trafficking on humans is huge business and is so sophisticated to the extent that they track their victims with electronic gadgets to know where they are where they go to.
The Project Manager, NACTAL, Mr. Samuel Olayemi listed the objectives of the workshop to include, to increase knowledge of media practitioners on CTIP, intensify media campaigns, strengthen capacity of media practitioners and improve knowledge of participants in developing relevant programmes.