On a warm Thursday night a few weeks ago, a Boeing 737-800 aircraft belonging to Al-Buraq airlines touched down at Murtala Mohammed Int’l airport. A total of 174 Nigerian deportees who were on that flight from Libya disembarked quietly into the waiting hands of immigration officials. They were the latest batch of trafficked victims who have been repatriated from the North African country. According to available records, flight UZ 389-390 was the 64th flight since the assisted Voluntary Returnees programme was initiated by the European Union and implemented by Organization on Migration (IOM) in 2017.
Only recently, the CNN Cable network rallied school students of all ages across the globe to join a global campaign against human trafficking and modern slavery tagged #MyFreedomDay. The event was designed to raise global awareness for the shameful scourge that has produced over 10Million victims many of whom are girls, women and children. The alarming rate of human trafficking has manifested in numerous tragic consequences. The world has been moved by unsightly image of helpless migrants who ended being washed up as life-less bodies on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The incidences of boat mishaps on the Mediterranean sea as well of sordid stories from female African teenagers who ended up as sex slaves contrary to the promise of greener pastures are just some of them.
Traditional institutions have even had to step in and the revered Monarch of Benin Kingdom, Oba Ewuare II has been at the forefront of the fight to stamp out the ignoble practice in the endemic Edo State. He recently placed a traditional curse on all human traffickers and oath administrators. The Oba’s royal pronouncement came with a warning. He appeal to all native doctors to stop administering oath of secrecy on victims of human trafficking and urged affected persons to speak out. “No native doctor should do any charm for any potential illegal migrants to cross international boarder. Those who did it before now are forgiven and whoever does it henceforth will face the wrought of our ancestors.”
Unsuspecting victims have been lured into the human trafficking trade with promises of various types of goodies. While some are told that they would pick up ready employment as hair stylist, others get conned with the story of a waiting Eldorado where quick money can be made in foreign currency.
At the top of hierarchy of the human traffick cartel are women usually referred to “Madams”. They control the crime ring that processes the endless stream of young girls from Africa and other developing countries across the desert or via rough sea waves. Their racket takes care of virtually all the victims need from international passport procurement, transport, transit camps and holding camps on arrival. The journeys take several weeks and most victims who sell personal belongings to find their trips still get raped and abused along the way to their final destination where they are either sold as sex slaves or are made to “work hard” enough to repay “madams” who invested on them.
A number of local and international organizations have continued to partner with local agencies mandated by the laws of Nigeria to tackle the menace of human trafficking. Prominent amongst these organizations is the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Organization for disease and crime (UNODC). Others include the Nigerian Immigration Service, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). The major beneficiary of this corporation and synergy is the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).