From Daniel Edem, Enugu
The August meeting in Igbo land has come and gone, but in most of the communities in the region, its impacts are still being felt, particularly amongst women.
In Enugu State, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffickers in Persons (NAPTIP) used the period to sensitise the rural communities about some of the dangers affecting women and children in the society.
Indeed, the agency took the crusade to Nkanu West Local Government Area where Mrs Ugochi Okere, wife of the council chairman hosted the August meeting for the women in the council.
The Director General of NAPTIP, Mrs. Julie Okah-Donli, harped on the need to sensitise women and children in rural areas on the dangers of human trafficking.
Indeed, the Zonal Commander of NAPTIP, Mrs. Comfort Agboko, who was on hand to counsel the women, said the agency could not relent in its effort in fighting against child trafficking, child abuse, child labour and sales of babies perpetrated by traffickers in Enugu State.
She also educated the women on the antics of the perpetrators, saying that it was needful to address the women in Nkanu West, pointing out that rural communities are the worst hit by trafficking.
She maintained that educating women and children would help in reducing, if not eradicating totally child abuse, child labour, and sales of babies in the state.
According to her, change has to begin from the grassroots, adding that NAPTIP as an agency was established in 2003 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to fight against human trafficking in the country.
“The zonal agency has since lived up to its expectations by handling more than 50 cases of human trafficking and has prosecuted the perpetrators since the zonal office was set up in 2006,” she said.
Mrs Agboko said that the suspects have been charged to court and justice expected to take its course.
She also warned that it was a crime to remove one’s reproductive organs, stressing that those found guilty of the offence in the past have been prosecuted.
“It is expedient to educate women so that they will in turn educate their children for them to know the antics of the perpetrators. Parents should warn their children against being lured into the hands of traffickers by their friends or peer groups.
“Parents should not exert pressure on their children. When you put too much pressure on your children, they get frustrated and lack motivation in life and by so doing end up in the hands of these evil people,” she said.
She charged women to provide their children with parental guidance, as well as pay their children’s fees while at school to avoid losing them to traffickers.
Her words: “Parents should try and take care of their children at home and at school. They should pay their fees, provide them food and other necessities. When these are done, children will not be lured away. There are parents who do not care about how their children are doing, yet expect them to return home with goodies. When you put too much pressure on them, it is calamitous and the bad news is that they will go away and may never return alive.
“You don’t expect your children at school to bring you bags of rice, different types of ostentatious clothes and other household goods. Where on earth will they get the money from to buy the items? These children involve themselves in all manner of activities just to meet the demands of their parents, which is not ideal.”
She advised children to stop being idle, adding that they should get involved in training and skills acquisition.
She also admonished them to stop being covetous, saying that they should be contented with whatever their parents are able to give.
She called on them to utilize their God-given talent in activities that would lift them to greatness in future.
Mrs. Agboko warned parents and children to be on the lookout as traffickers use money to entice their victim.
She called on other people to report cases of trafficking, stressing that their identity would not be revealed to the public or the government.
She said that those who want to report cases of child trafficking, child abuse, child labour and sales of babies should reach the agency.
She assured the public that justice would be obtained for any injustice against children, while the perpetrators would be prosecuted accordingly.
Saying the fight against human trafficking was a welcome development, the wife of Enugu State governor, Mrs Monica Ugochi Ugwuanyi, who was special guest of honour at the event, pledged to continue to support the agency in the fight.
The zonal commander in compliance to the director general of the agency’s directive had led a team of officers to kick-off the campaign against human trafficking in Ebonyi, Imo, Anambra states, as well as three local governments in Enugu State.