Human trafficking is arguably one challenge that has put Nigeria in very bad light before the international community.
In a 2018 report by the United States Department of State, Nigeria was identified as a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking, and a source country for men subjected to forced labour. The damning report further disclosed that Nigerian trafficking victims are recruited from rural areas – especially the country’s southern regions – and, to a lesser extent, urban areas.
In a bid to reverse this negative trend, civil society groups have tasked all Nigerians to step up and contribute their quota to the war against human trafficking. The group stated that the task to stamp out human trafficking should not be left for government alone.
This charge was made by civil groups during an awareness-raising event organised by Nigerian Women Association Verona (NWAV) and community leaders of Kosofe local government, to mark the World Day against Trafficking in Persons recently in Lagos state.
Speaking at the event, Mrs. Blessing Uwadineke, the Lagos chapter chairperson of NWAV, made a wake-up on Nigerians to realise that the menace of human trafficking is a problem that must not be handled with kid gloves. “Every Nigerian must know that we have a job to do in combating human trafficking and irregular migration in this country. It’s so sad when you see how the image of our country has gone so bad because of the activities of human traffickers. Our values have been eroded, but we need to stand up and say ‘NO’ to the rot in our polity and join forces in the fight against trafficking in persons.”
Mrs. Uwadineke, while making this call for more support from the government, spoke about the group’s ‘INSIgHT’ project which has been mapped out to tackle human trafficking from the roots.
Giving more details about the project, NWAV’s programme officer, Mrs. Bose Otukpe, said INSIgHT means ‘Building Capacity to Deal with Human Trafficking and Transit Routes in Nigeria, Italy, Sweden.’ It was created, she informed, to increase the capacity of key local stakeholders in various parts of Nigeria to tackle human trafficking. She announced that the project aims to raise awareness among victim returnees and law enforcement agencies on evolving trafficking dynamics.
“There is need to forge a strong alliance between government and citizens in the war against human trafficking in Nigeria. And that is why we are very focused on this project. ” Mrs. Otukpe explained.
Also speaking, Alhaji Rasheed Awofeso, a community leader and social worker of the Child and Community Response Initiative (CCRI) described human trafficking is an evil trade that is being fuelled by poverty, unemployment and the illiteracy in Nigeria, as he called for more synergy and involvement in the grassroots to raise awareness on the antics human traffickers use to lure people.
“There is an urgent need for community leaders, social workers and residents to come out and show commitment to curbing human trafficking. It is sad to realise that fellow Nigerians are sold off and treated like animals in faraway countries like Cameron, Mali, Gabon, Libya, and Italy. Human trafficking is an illicit trade that debases humanity. Hence, a concerted effort must be made to stamp it out.”