In its 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report, the United States (US) government placed Nigeria on Tier-2 Watchlist for “failing to meet minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.” The report accused Nigerian government of not investigating allegations of trafficking leveled against senior government officials and security agents.
It also accused Nigerian judges of corruption as well as not being conversant with the 2015 amended anti-trafficking act. The report claimed that the government did not report any prosecutions or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking offences despite the preponderance of such cases every year.
The report said that Nigeria’s ports and waterways around Calabar were transit points for West African children subjected to forced labour in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon and stressed that Nigerians travel to Togo for child sex.
The Nigerian government has denied the condoning of human trafficking. According to the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the government was not condoning human trafficking. Mohammed also explained that government was doing a lot to stem the tide of the evil trade through advocacy and international cooperation.
No doubt, trafficking in persons has become an international issue and therefore should not be taken lightly by the Nigerian authorities. The government and its internal security agencies, especially the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), should do more to stem human trafficking in Nigeria.
The US damning report is a disturbing development, especially as senior government officials were indicted. Let the government use the US report as an impetus to boost the war against human trafficking. With strong political will, the scourge can be stopped.
It is sad that Nigerian children and young girls are trafficked as house helps, sex slaves, among others, to neighbouring countries such as Togo, Benin Republic, Ghana, Gabon enroute to Europe and America.
The giant strides recorded by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and others that check the illicit trade on human beings should be intensified and sustained. Human trafficking should be seen as modern-day slavery which has done a lot of damage to our image. It should never be condoned at all.
The family, which is the basic unit of the society, and the primary agent of socialisation, for every child, must be made to join the campaign against human trafficking. Since the failure of the family affects the entire society and the country, parents should be acquainted of their responsibilities to their children and wards.
A dysfunctional family unit and grinding poverty may lead parents to engage in human trafficking of their children as being reported. Government should embark on enlightenment campaign against human trafficking. Apart from parents, religious leaders and the public should be engaged and educated on the evils of human trafficking and ways to stop such inhuman trade.
Nigerians should be made to understand that travelling to Europe and other countries abroad as refugees is no longer in vogue. The promises of better life and better working opportunities in Europe is a fairy tale sold to uninformed and ignorant Nigerians to traffic them to Europe for sinister motives.
It is worth pointing out to them that the pastures are not always greener outside our shores. Let our political leaders improve the standard of living of all Nigerians and provide jobs for millions of unemployed Nigerians. If things work well in the country, the craze for “checking out” should be drastically reduced.
Some Nigerians are enticed to this hazardous foreign travels that later end up in human trafficking simply because of the economic hardship in the country. We strongly believe that one of the best ways to check the incessant traffic of persons in Nigeria is to make the country to work.
Government must provide the basic necessities of life such as security, employment, water, electricity, transportation, housing, food and functional health facilities. What the government is presently doing to tackle the menace is probably not enough. It should do more. That is perhaps the essence of the US report on the nation’s war against human trafficking.