TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS: WHO’S TO BLAME?
By Ekwi Ajide
In spite of harrowing testimonies from the over forty thousand Nigerian returnees from Libya, many Nigerian youths still travel through the vast and ungoverned Sahara deserts with the sole aim of reaching the foreign land of their dreams.
Their dreams, are often dashed, as many of them die on the way, while those who make it to the foreign land, sometimes become involuntary slaves.
In this special report, our correspondent, takes a look at the major reasons this ugly trend persists, despite efforts by several governments to tighten their borders against irregular migrants.
Worldwide estimate indicate that twenty one million people are victims of human trafficking.
A report by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, indicated that though the actual number of persons trafficked in Nigeria remain unknown, only two percent of them are trafficked outside the country while twenty three percent of them are trafficked within states and seventy five percent of them are trafficked across states.
According to a 2017 report by Pathfindersji.org, a former Nigerian permanent representative to the United Nations, Mr. Martin Uhomoibhi, contended that in 2016 alone, six hundred and two thousand Nigerians tried to migrate to Europe through the Sahara desert but twenty seven thousands of them died en-route.
Mr. Uhomoibhi also claimed that those who died on the way, sixty eight percent of them were university graduates; thereby bringing the number of Nigerians account for about twenty one percent of the total one hundred and eighty one thousand migrants who arrived Italy via the Mediterranean in 2016.
it is alarming however, to note that ninety four percent of all Nigerian women trafficked to Europe for prostitution came from one state of the country – Edo State; this is in spite of all efforts made by different individuals and the Edo state government to stem the tide of human trafficking in the state.
in fact, a United Nations inter-regional crime and justice report 2003 had concluded that virtually every Benin family has a member involved in trafficking either as a victim, sponsor or trafficker.
Kathryn Farr, in an article for the British Journal of Criminology, on sex trafficking: the global market in women and children said that in the United States alone, government estimates that between six hundred thousand to eight hundred thousand individuals are trafficked into the country each year.
Although these estimates are mind blowing, it is still believed in some quarters that they underestimate the true nature of the global problem. So, who’s to blame? From all indications no one knows for sure how many victims fall prey to human trafficking since it has remained a clandestine crime.
It is however a known fact that no person is spared as men, women, and children all over the world irrespective of age or religion become victims of this crime just because of economic or political instability in their countries of origin. On the other hand, it ensures economic prosperity and disposal incomes in countries of destination, which accounts for why it has become impossible to checkmate trafficking in persons across the globe
It may not be out of place to assert that if there’s no recipient at the country of destination, there will be no business for the trafficker at the country of origin.
It is however unfortunate that in some states in Nigeria, culture becomes responsible human trafficking especially in the trafficking of children since parents voluntarily give consent for their children to live in homes of friends, family members, relations or even third persons so as to provide them with better opportunities, but many times these children become victims or labour exploitation as domestic servants or slaves or in the Edo case where it has become tradition for every family to showcase their money making machine in Italy often times, beneficiaries of human trafficking.
One is wont to ask therefore, how do I know a would be trafficker or who is being trafficked? There may not be a specific kind of identification for trafficker, but it is pertinent to note that they operate in various ways such as recruitment in this cases they woo their victims with all sorts of promises of a better life across the shores. Transportation: many victims of human trafficking pay for their transportation to the country of destination only to end up enslaved probably because they could no longer foot their bills.