Few weeks ago, Nigerian lawmakers in the House of Representatives instituted an investigation into the illicit harvest and trade in the human male organ. The enquiry was necessitated by the revelation that a cargo ship had been arrested and seized in the Shanghai port in China after it arrived there with 7,200 refrigerated male organs found in 36 boxes and labelled as plantain. The ship had sailed from Nigerian shores. It is safe to say that some, if not all, of the commodity belonged to hapless Nigerians who may have fallen victim to illegal organ harvesting and trafficking.
It was also reported that the Chinese General Administration of Customs had warned that an increasingly large number of armed groups in Africa use organs harvested in unsanitary conditions to fund their violent campaigns.
The motion entitled “Need to Investigate the Illicit Trade in Human Organs” was sponsored by two lawmakers, Hon Rimamnde Shawulu Kwewum from Taraba State and Hon. Olajide Olatubosun from Oyo State.
The lawmakers recalled that in early 1987, the World Health Organisation (WHO) condemned such trade as it violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the right to life and the right to the dignity of the human person – the latter extends to even how dead bodies are treated.
RELATED: Reps To Probe Human Organ Trade
The international community had also tried to curb the menace of the Red Market, as it is called, by enunciating the Istanbul Declaration in which it urged medical professionals to stop the unethical actions where organs of unfortunate victims of economic migrants and human trafficking in Europe and the Middle East are cut off for filthy lucre.
The sponsors of the motion warned that if nothing is done to curb this criminal enterprise, more undesirable elements will take advantage of the country’s security challenges to carry on this terrible trade in flesh and blood. Life is now so cheap in Nigeria that killers are on the prowl in many places, dispatching scores to death on a daily basis. Such bloodthirsty types will turn killing into a sport if they have a way of trading their victims’ organs.
This warning is poignant at this point in time. Few years ago, reports of criminal gangs in war-torn Libya exploiting the misery of stranded Nigerians and other Africans in the lawless country to kill them and rip off their organs for trade to traffickers were rife. Their victims were usually economic migrants, victims of human trafficking and other unlucky chaps.
This macabre trade in the human male genitalia is another worrisome dimension to the human organ illicit trade. Who did those 7,200 penises belong to and how did they die?
The high rate of killings, the increasing cases of missing persons, ritual killings and trafficking of persons out of the country could be ready supply sources to operators of the Red Market.
It is obvious that swathes of the country under the control of bandits, terrorists, kidnappers, mercenary herdsmen militia, and cultists provide those engaged in this barbarous business a cover to operate. The various security challenges are also a distraction to the security agents, especially as they themselves are primary targets of violent criminals and insurgents.
It is clear as day that some criminal-minded individuals, in cahoots with rogue medical surgeons and hospital officials have a hand in all this. They need to be found out.
As a newspaper, we expect the House Committees on Human Rights and National Security and Intelligence, which had been mandated to look into this matter, to do a thorough job of it.
However, security agencies should also begin their own investigative protocols to get to the root of the matter. They may not have control over the fate that befalls Nigerian victims stranded in Libya and other nations, but the case of penis shipment to China was carried out from Nigeria where they have jurisdiction.
The busting of the instant case was attributed to an anonymous whistleblower, otherwise this gruesome trade could have continued to thrive underground. An estimated turn over of between $600 million and $1.2 billion profit annually suggests that this illicit trade has a well beaten track. So the police have its job cut out to catch the culprits and halt the trade.
Nigerian security agencies must be vigilant to ensure that no shipment of such human merchandise successfully leaves Nigerian shores again. They must collaborate with foreign partners to unearth those who import this kind of merchandise. That will give them an idea on how to deal with the issue.
Furthermore, we are of the opinion that whoever is discovered to be involved in this dastardly endeavour must be named and shamed, no matter their status.