From Felix Ikem, Nsukka
Justice Chima Nweze of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, has urged the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to sensitise Nigerians especially youths more on the danger of illegal migrations.
Nweze said this in Nsukka on Thursday in a keynote address at University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) during the 2nd international conference of Grace Uzoma Okonkwo Foundation tagged; “Migration and Neo-slavery as Significant Features of the 21st Century”.
The conference was organised by Grace Uzoma Okonkwo Foundation in collaboration with Institute of Africa Studies and Department of English and Literary Studies UNN.
He said the sensitisation would enable youths to know the danger of illegal migrations and human trafficking embedded in deception and fraud.
“NOA must wake up to its responsibilities, it should educate Nigerians on the deception of the traffickers and dangers inherent in illegal migrations.
“More information dissemination backed by testimonies of repatriated persons would go a long way to dissuade youths from offering themselves as persons to be trafficked.
“The agency should use persuasion approach towards halting the increasing level of human trafficking in Nigeria,” he said.
The apex court judge who was represented in the occasion by Justice C. Ogbuabor of Enugu State High Court advised, National Agency for the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) to engage civil society organisations and experts with experience in identifying traffickers and prosecuting them.
“There must be also a robust engagement with traditional institutions and community leaders to assist NAPTIP identify traffickers and torture houses in their communities,” he said.
He said that such multi-lateral collaborations will help to stem the tide and ultimately eliminate domestic trafficking and slavery in Nigeria.
Nweze advised NAPTIP to consider instituting a whistle-blowing policy and a reward system for informants who send intelligence reports on the activities of traffickers to the agency.
“This will help NAPTIP to have a adquate information on activities of traffickers and their collaborators,” he said.
In a paper titled “Migration and Neo-slavery as Significant Features of the 21st Century: The Role of Education and Mothers,” Dr. Pat Okeke, Proprietress of Supreme Knowledge Comprehensive School, Nkpor-Onitsha, Anambra, said proper education and good family orientation would help solve the problems of trafficking and illegal migrations.
“Education plays vital role in lives of youths for proper and informed decisions at any point in time.
“Good family upbringing and closeness mothers to their children will not only mitigate the rate of illegal migrations but nip the action in the bud.
“Mothers should always ensure that their children confide in them in whatever decision or action they take,” she said.
She however, blamed the rate of migrations to abroad to the harsh economic realities in the country.
“Some youths resort to crossing the Mediterranean sea or travelling through the desert to Europe in search of greener pastures to measure up with their mates or to fend for their families,” she said.
In a remark, Prof. Charles Igwe, the Vice-chancellor of UNN commended the organisers of the conference and described the topic as very apt.
The VC said, given the adverse effects of illegal migrations and trafficking in the country, the conference should proffer solutions that would make youths in the country to know that going to Europe do not mean becoming rich overnight or instantly.
Earlier, Prof. Florence Orabueze the Director of Institute of Africa Studies and Chairman of Grace Uzoma Okonkwo Foundation, said that the aim of the conference was to find solutions to illegal migrations that had claimed the lives many youths as well as rendered lives of others useless in their search for greener pastures.
“These wicked human traffickers deceived some of our youths in the country by promising them heaven and earth abroad.
“But at the last, these youths usually end up working in plantations, in hotels as prostitutes and other odd jobs which amount to abuse and enslavement,”she said.