Andy Essiet, Calabar
Civil society groups in Cross River state have raised the alarm over the rate of human trafficking in Nigeria saying the country contributes over 10 percent of 300 million people trafficked world wide.
Speaking on Saturday in a one day symposium sponsored by Expertise France on World Day Against Trafficking in Persons with the theme: “Use and Abuse of Technology” by Network Against Child Trafficking, Abuse and Labour (NACTAL), Cross River at Ikang in Bakassi Local Government Area of the state, the experts said trafficking is alarming in Nigeria yet no much funding to check the situation.
Publicity Secretary, Child Protection Network (CPN), Mr. Williams Arikpo, said “We have over 300 million victims of trafficking as at today covering a period of past 10 years all over the world and it is a $150 billion industry. There is a lot of investment in it by people and that is why it is thriving.
“Out of the 300 million victims, Nigeria accounts for more than 10 percent because Nigeria is a major trafficking port. In Africa. Nigeria serves as a source and a destination. That means there are people who are trafficked from somewhere else to Nigeria and from Nigeria to other places. I think Nigeria is the highest in Africa actually” .
On the laws against human trafficking and what the Federal Government should do to help check the alarming rate, Arikpo said “already we have laws that have been enacted in the country and we expect the enforcement of these laws.
“We also expect the government of Nigeria to support and fund anti trafficking efforts . The Immigration here is grossly under funded. NAPTIC too is grossly under funded and they don’t have the capacity or facilities to do the work. The whole Cross River NAPTIC does not have a single vehicle . They have been struggling to furnish a rehabilitation centre donated to them by the state government. The Federal government should fund the necessary agencies of government”.
On her part, the South South Coordinator, NACTAL, Mrs. Victoria Ukpong said the symposium ” is all about sensitization on the ills in trafficking in persons and on how to prevent persons from being trafficked. Victims are being deceived, forced and trafficked for exploitation . It could be sexual or labour exploitation. So people must ask questions before travelling and find out. So if you must travel, travel right”.
She said that “trafficking in Edo State is high but now because of the pronouncement made by the Oba of Benin, they have now shifted to Delta state but for us in Cross River and Akwa Ibom states, we are very much endemic because of our border communities to Cameroon and other countries and these traffickers use these border communities to transfer victims to Libya or nearby countries . So you see my zone has a very perculiar situation. It is very high because from the advocacy and sensitisation we have embarked on so many cases have been reported.
“Now traffickers do not travel with victims but rather connive with drivers and put them in a vehicle and the driver will transfer to closest location where they can pick up. .Especially this Ikang which is a border town with Cameroon and it leads to the high sea.. It’s alarming and that is why we are here to do the sensitisation programme”.
One of the traditional rulers in Bakassi, Chief Bassey IbokAbasi said issue of human trafficking is very common in the Bakassi area and “We the traditional rulers are ready to cooperate with NACTAL and government agencies to ensure that human trafficking is eliminated” .
The State Coordinator of NACTAL, Cross River Chapter, Mr. Umo Isuaikoh also decried the rate of human trafficking in the country saying communities, religious bodies, families and others should join hand in fighting the menace and “we want to also stop the stigma against victims hence we need much enlightenment ” .