The relevant authorities could do more to curb the illegal business

Despite all the efforts by government, human trafficking is still a serious issue in the country given the revelation last week by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and other Related Matters (NAPTIP). The agency said about one million persons, most of them women and children, were trafficked in Nigeria annually. Even if we query the figure, given that statistics are often patchy, we must nonetheless support the efforts of the NAPTIP’s acting Director General, Alhaji Abdulrazak Dangiri, to get all the critical stakeholders to come together to tackle the problem.

According to Dangiri, 75 per cent of the victims were trafficked across the states, 23 per cent within states while two per cent were trafficked outside the country. Human trafficking is prevalent in 20 states, namely Lagos, Ondo, Edo, Benue, Ebonyi, Imo, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Rivers. The others are Kano, Sokoto, Katsina, Jigawa, Kwara, Taraba, Niger, Borno, Yobe and Kebbi States. But more revealing was the disclosure that women from China, Ukraine, Philippines, Belarus and Molodovia were also being trafficked to Nigeria to work as prostitutes in some adult clubs.

The organised inter-state sex-trafficking should worry the authorities. These days a lot of young Nigerian girls are being trafficked from one state of the federation to the other just for sex. A research carried out by Sympathy Worldwide Foundation, a non-governmental organisation fighting sex slavery and child trafficking, reveals that most of these young girls were trafficked to Lagos with promises of greener pasture, but as the promises become unfulfilled, the girls take to the streets.

Outside the shores of the country it is even more lamentable. The various reports indicate that the largest group of prostitutes from Sub-Saharan Africa is from Nigeria. According to a recent United States Department of State report, out of the 2,500 minors engaged in full-time prostitution in the streets of Italy, 2,300 are minors from Albanian and Nigeria. Italy has long been described as the capital of Nigerian prostitutes as they outrightly dominate the sex trade there. Something definitely has to be done about this unsavoury situation that destroys not only our image as a nation but the future of those involved.

Apart from Italy, Nigerian prostitutes have successfully invaded Spain, Germany, Belgium, Austria, United Kingdom, among other countries. Nigerian girls constitute the largest group of prostitutes in Norway. There are over 400 under-aged Nigerian prostitutes in the Netherlands. Majority of these prostitutes are recruited through the human trafficking industry. Most of the victims of this trafficking are unsuspecting young girls who were enticed with promises of good jobs abroad only to be coerced into prostitution.

But what is not in doubt is that there is an international criminal cartel behind human trafficking and until the authorities are able to get those behind it and bring them to justice, the problem will continue. We therefore call on government at all levels, anti-prostitution NGOs, parents, churches, mosques, the police and all relevant stakeholders to take concrete steps in addressing the issue. Since poverty and unemployment are the major causes of prostitution, government at all levels should sit up and create the enabling environment for job creation.

Besides, the family institution needs to be re-invigorated. If parents were at home performing their parental responsibilities, their daughters would probably not have taken to the streets. Nigeria possesses an enviable rich cultural heritage which includes living a chaste life. That is why all should join hands in tackling all forms of human trafficking in our country.