By Abdullah Abdulganiy
Thursday, July 30 heralded the commemoration of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. Such a historic day in humanity should not go unnoticed. It is, ordinarily, a period to spare some thoughts for the victims of the menace of human trafficking, and compare notes on the way out of this dare-deviltry besieging the globe.
Human trafficking is practically as old as humanity. There are traces in history alluding to the fact that people had fallen prey to it from time immemorial. However, the emergence of globalization has, in no mean measure, increased the trend of this menace in recent times, with perpetrators getting more emboldened.
Like it is the case with many other social problems, anybody can be a victim of human trafficking — irrespective of social status, level of education, gender, age. This is the reason we must come together as humans to put a stop to this disaster. Statistics have shown that this social malaise is of higher currency in third world countries. Nigeria is no exception, and perhaps has the largest chunk of victims in the whole of West Africa.
Events in the past few months have revealed that many Nigerians are entrapped in the abroad; as Lebanon and Dubai have become notorious epicenters of this ugly development. I have seen heartrending videos posted on Twitter, of Nigerians stuck in the hands of human traffickers, facing crude harassment and assault. Of specific note is the recent footage showing about thirty Nigerian women crying for help in captivity in faraway Lebanon, and another whom, if not for government’s last minute intervention, would have been sold out as a slave by a Lebanese.
Kudos to the Federal Government for the timely intervention which has resulted in their rescue from their captors, as evacuation procedures are being charted. Nonetheless, many Nigerians are still being held captive in different parts of the world. Hence, stakeholders at various levels must up their games in ensuring that drastic efforts are made to uncover them, and tame the scourge of human trafficking prior to its occurrence which is most significant.
Technically, human trafficking could be interpreted as the criminal recruitment, transportation and harboring of individuals by means of force, threat and other coercive methods, mostly without their consent for the purpose of exploitation which manifests in forced labor, sexual harassment, child begging and even servitude. In some cases, the consent of the victim is sought in a dubious way.
Though human trafficking is more popular as a cross-border crime, it may also occur within the confines of a country. More than any social category else, findings have shown that women and children are worst hit by the deadly virus of human trafficking. While women are used mostly for sexual advances, children are for labor and menial jobs. In effect, common local practices such as ‘house boy’, ‘house help’, ‘maid’, ‘runs girls’ that have become formalised in the Nigerian society could be situated in the context of human trafficking.
Human trafficking does not only cause physiological damage to victims, it has adverse effects on their sociability and psychology. It is a crime against God and humanity. It has torn loved ones apart, and thrown families into endless agony and despair. There is a popular Yoruba saying that, ‘It is better for one’s child to die than get lost’. Many have been missing as a result of human trafficking, with little or no hope for their return.
Those who peradventure were saved from the clutches of these wicked traffickers come back with gory details and stories of lamentations that will evoke emotion and pity from even the most hard-hearted. Let’s hear from select survivors as they recount their ordeals.
“Juliana P., 23, was trafficked to Libya in 2015. She said she was stuck at sea and later held captive in Libya:
“We stayed in the sea for five days. The food got finished. We did not know where we were. A man died and was pushed into the sea. People were crying, saying they did not know they would suffer this much. We met a group of Arabs; they took us in their boat and took us to prison. We stayed for six months. In prison the food they gave us was bread and chai and spaghetti with water. The water was very salty; it used to peel the skin. We were crying and they would beat us.
“Joy P. described being trafficked at age 12 in 2017 from her home in Anambra State to Lagos State by a woman who deceived her, saying she would help with her education while she took care of the woman’s children. The woman forced Joy to clean and cook for two months without pay, then she took Joy to a brothel for forced prostitution:
“One day she… took me to a hotel. I found one of the girls I met in Anambra there. She went to the owner of the hotel and said, “I have brought another girl.” The man said I was too young to stay there. She took me back to the house and bought drugs for me to make me fatter. After three weeks, she took me back but [he] did not accept me. She took me to another hotel and the owner accepted me. I told her, “This is not what you brought me here for.” She said I have to pay the money she used to bring me to Lagos before I can go back.
“She brought condoms and gave me and said men will be coming to me. She gave me a room. Different men would come and sleep with me. I lost count of how many. I ran away after two days. My madam sent people to look for me. They found me and took me back to her house. She beat me and said that I had to pay her. She brought me something to drink to make me promise that I will not run away again. She took me back to the first hotel and he accepted me. It was painful. I was crying all the time.” [Culled from: https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/08/27/nigeria-anguish-poverty-confront-trafficking-survivors].
There are many other heart wrenching narrations, but I do not want to bore readers with them. Interested ones can at their leisure go through others’ accounts in the link provided above. Like I stated, Nigeria must put in place effective and lasting measures in addressing the challenge of human trafficking both within and without. Particularly, precautions should be the watchword of stakeholders, rather than solutions. As they say, ‘Prevention is better and cheaper than cure’.
My observation has shown that the major reason people get entagled in the web of human trafficking is economic. Thus, the government needs to, more than ever, implement policies and schemes that will reposition the Nigerian economy to minimize the victims of human trafficking. More so, the security question is very important. Most Nigerian borders are very porous and easily infiltrated. There is a fresh concern by the US that some terrorist groups are penetrating the Northeast Nigeria. Moving forward, the security architecture of borders – land, air, water — must be rejigged and rendered more efficient. Above all, there must be political will in stamping out human trafficking.
To wrap it up, there should be adequate provisions for recovered victims of human trafficking in form of rehabilitation and reintegration. Most have suffered enough psychological trauma and must be well catered for. They should not be left to their travails. Government agencies such as NIDCOM, NAPTIP, Customs, and others need to be up and doing to see the end of human trafficking in the Nigerian society. Together, we can win the war!
For Kayode Alabi, divine healing
Kwara State Deputy Governor, Mr Kayode Alabi alongside his wife tested positive for the novel coronavirus disease last week after a fresh test was conducted on them. Earlier, many of his aides went down with the virus and are undergoing treatment at the isolation center.
As the Chairman, Kwara State Technical Committee on COVID-19, Mr Alabi took the bull by the horns, placing his life on the line. He was up and doing in ensuring that Kwara sees the end of the dreaded monster as soon as possible.
To his credit and other hard working team members, the efforts of Kwara in fighting COVID-19 have received nationwide accolades. I recall how he led from the front during the inter-state travel ban, examining several entry points by himself.
He is redefining the office of the deputy governor, putting it on the spotlight. Many people do not even know the name of some past deputy governors in Kwara State. It was as bad as that because previous occupiers of the office remained docile and inactive across their years.
On this note therefore, I wish him and other people who are down with the virus speedy recovery. Alabi still has much to offer Kwara. I hope he wins the war soon. Dear COVIDIOTS, do I still need to tell you COVID-19 is real? Senator Buruji Kashamu, hitherto strongman of Nigerian, nay, Ogun politics, is the latest high-flying casualty. This therefore presupposes that we must all take responsibility to flatten the curve of transmission. May God heal the world as fast as possible!