Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
Eight Evils Of Human Traffficking by Steve Osuji & Boniface Opute, in Collaboration with the Nigerian Guild of Editors; An NGE Human Dignity Project (NGEHDP) Book Published by Arrangement with White Suite Nigeria; 2016
The scourge of human trafficking is a horrifying clear and present danger of the modern world. It is a crying shame that the abolition of slavery is today only observed in the breach. December 2 every year marks the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery but the human trafficking going on across the globe represents a disavowal of the observance. Respected journalist Steve Osuji and chartered marketer Boniface Opute have served mankind well by digging deep into the woe of the evil trade by writing the very timely book Eight Evils of Human Trafficking. The authors deserve immense plaudits for literally wading into a fortress where angels fear to tread.
In his Foreword to Eight Evils of Human Trafficking, Femi Adesina, former President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) and currently Special Adviser (SA) of Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, delves into the heart of the matter thusly: “It is noteworthy that more than 90 percent of trafficked persons are female especially preteens and teenagers. While a few are deployed as maids and domestic help, majority are articles of trade in the multi-billion dollars world flesh trade.” Adesina’s lament is indeed heartfelt, to wit: “Nigeria appears to be practically alone in the fight against human trafficking in sub-Saharan Africa. That makes the campaign more difficult.” It is therefore of crucial essence that Eight Evils of Human Trafficking should serve as the theoretical bulwark for the governmental praxis needed for the tackling of the vile trade.
Steve Osuji and Boniface Opute employ the best modes of New Journalism as enunciated by Tom Wolfe in digging deep into the minds of the case studies of the victims of human trafficking presented in the book. The short story of the brilliant teenage girl Kate from Benin City rends the heart. A senior secondary school student who had set her thoughts to going to the university and making a success of her life, Kate had the course of her history changed when her greedy mother Elekhia arranged through a friend for her passage to Italian prostitution in a very convoluted manner thus: “It was Mummy Idiat, her mother’s friend whom she knew quite well, who had made the connection through a friend of her friend and of her friend again.
The connection was so long it could have been ten times removed.” In the dead of a heavily rain-soaked night Kate is spirited away in a manner that no forwarding address could be traced. Kate’s father Odion who knew nothing of his wife’s plans for their daughter Kate ends up a destroyed man even as the wife withdraws to the outskirts of lived life. Kate is taken to Lagos under the charge of the ruthless Big Mummy before being taken to Ghana alongside the other captured girl, Omo, before the flight in the base company of the escort, Uncle Osas, to Italy. The tragic fate of the unfortunate Omo somewhat turns Kate into a willing jelly. The HIV-positive Kate gets eventually cast away “under a flyover bridge along an Italian highway” where she is eventually discovered by the Italian police, thus helping in the arrest of the Nigerian traffickers.
Human trafficking recognizes no bonds of maternity, paternity or consanguinity. Nothing is sacred in the satanic trade. Even the so-called “men of God” are active participants, not the least of which can be Catholic Reverend Fathers. Osuji and Opute cite the instance of columnist Azuka Jebose Molokwu who reported that Dubai is now the new haven of the Nigerian prostitution ring, with mothers happily sponsoring their graduate daughters to indulge in the lucrative trade.
The making-babies-for-sale in the baby factories dotting the terrains of the Southeast and South-South states of Abia, Imo, Ebonyi, Enugu, Rivers, Anambra and Akwa Ibom could be seen to be stretching to the Southwestern states of Ogun and Ondo. The flesh of the matter happens to be prostitution, “the world’s oldest profession”, in the words of novelist Rudyard Kipling. The more ignoble dimension is of course child prostitution that is inherently non-consensual. Baby slavery of the sort that led to the death of the Orile-Iganmu hawker Kayode (Boy Kayus) is a slap on the conscience of the human race. The role of the Universal Church in the global response to human trafficking is critically underscored. Osuji and Opute deploy the story of Kim Kubal of Holy Name College, Oakland in USA as the absolute poverty of the soul and spirit in the tableau of human trafficking.
Diseases and death are all the rage in the lust for fast cash. It is estimated that “30,000 victims of sex trafficking die each year from abuse, disease, torture and neglect.” Human trafficking serves as the ready boost for the spread of HIV and AIDS. Sterility, forced abortions, miscarriages, organ harvesting, vaginal and anal trauma come in for bad measure. The sad story of Maria, the beautiful Catholic girl from Abbi town in Delta State, who makes the ill-fated journey to Holland illustrates a life of wreck. On the positive side, the young Chinelo from Anambra State escapes from an arranged marriage in Lagos to make a success of her life through the help of Reverend Father Dennis. Knowing that education is key, she becomes the overall Best Graduating Student in Computer Science and caps it all up with a Masters degree and a job with one of the GSM operators.
Hope thrives eternal in Eight Evils of Human Trafficking by Steve Osuji and Boniface Opute as exemplified by Shalewa who is duped into a dubious American marriage by his crooked childhood sweetheart Tayo. The survival of Shalewa is the ultimate measure of human triumph. She has since her return from America been running a school for seven years where most of the students score distinctions in the requisite subjects.
Osuji and Opute have offered mankind a treasure-trove of a book in Eight Evils of Human Trafficking. It comes complete with the profiles of national and global organizations combating human trafficking such as the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Amina Titi Atiku Abubakar’s Women Trafficking and Child Labour Eradication (WOTCLEF), Mrs. Eki Igbinedion’s Idia Renaissance, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) etc.