Despite efforts by the government, international organisations and other relevant stakeholders to address the menace of human trafficking, Nigeria continues to contribute the largest share of persons trafficked or forcefully immigrated.
The country has been identified as a source, transit and destination country for women and children subjected to trafficking in persons, including forced labour.
In 2017, the US department office to monitor and combat trafficking in persons, placed the country on a watch list. However, the country was recently upgraded to tier 2 and no longer on the watch list.
Describing trafficking as a profitable crime, the immediate past director-general of (NAPTIP), Dame Julie Okah-Donli, says the crime is worth about $15billion in a year.
Okah-Donli, who is presently the chairman, Board of Trustees, United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for victims of human trafficking, noted that there are so many unreported cases of human trafficking in the country but stated that during her tenure, NAPTIP had over 17,000 women, men and children all together with 400 convictions.
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Identifying some of the challenges militating against the fight as inter-agency rivalry, corruption among officers and lack of resources to really take the fight head-on, the chairman said “you have to be on top of your game to stop this. It is a critical network of people from the source to the destination.”
The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and CLEEN Foundation in partnership with the government of Italy, recently launched a report on trafficked persons, returnings in Edo and Lagos states.
The UN Women noted that the advent of COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria has also come with implications for human trafficking and forced migration.
“This launch comes at a critical time and it is imperative for the successful implementation of this project. This is a key contribution to preventing, mitigating, and responding to trafficking incidents across Nigeria,” the organisation noted.
Lamenting that Nigeria is both a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking, the executive director, CLEEN Foundation, Benson Olugbuo regretted that this unfortunately has put the country on the world of countries with one of the highest number of trafficked victims, many of whom are women and young girls from Edo State and others.
“There bodies have become commodities in the international sex market with many suffering untold hardships, abuse, violence and sexually transmitted diseases in various European, Middle East, African countries and other parts of the world,” he said.
The head of migration, Italian Embassy, Sabastiano Bartolotta says trafficking in human beings constitutes violation of human right and the integrity of the person involved who most at times also fall victim of modern slavery.
“Unfortunately, force migration and human trafficking mostly involve violence against women and children and some of them are often recruited by criminal Organisations, hence identifying and assisting these victims are fundamental and it represents a moral duty for us all.”