In a bid to an end the menace of human trafficking in Edo State, the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, in conjunction with traditional priests in the kingdom, invoked the gods of the land against those aiding and abetting the illicit trade in the state, writes Adibe Emenyonu
The illicit trade in human trafficking appeared to have become a hydra-headed monster. This is so because those who are involved in the nefarious business are in high places.
Besides, the trade has continued to flourish because those involved in it are faceless. They merely make use of agents or middle men who do the act of recruiting, harbouring, transporting, providing or obtaining a person for compelled labour or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud or coercion on their behalf.
The real financiers and beneficiaries stay at the background to provide the necessary support and assistance whenever things go awry because of their connections with people in high places.
This accounted for why even with the awareness created, a lot of people still embark on taking the risk to travel to Europe for forced labour.
Unlike what happened in the days of Trans-Atlantic and Trans-Saharan Slave Trade, where victims were captured and forced into slavery, the victims in this “modern day slavery”, are usually young children, teenagers, men and women who are either lured or by themselves volunteer to go overseas in search of the proverbial greener pastures.
The situation is made worst because of the common local factors associated with the search for better conditions to overcome poverty, oppression, lack of human rights, lack of social or economic opportunities, dangers from conflict or instability and similar conditions.
Most times, victims are subjected to one form of oath taking or swearing-in the name of one deity or the other to be of good behaviour or face the consequences of tick headedness.
Once this oath of allegiance is obtained, the victim remains perpetually under the control of the master/mistress until the fellow is satisfied beyond unreasonable doubt that his/her greed has been satiated.
To make matters worse, even churches have been fingered for serving as recruitment centres through pastors who pretend to pray for would be traffickers.
At the centre of this orgy is Benin City, the capital of Edo State. To this extent, it has become a transit point for other states of the federation because within the city, all manner of tricks are devised to turn candle into electricity in a bid to ensure the illicit trade blossoms.
Not too long ago, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Edo State vowed to go after pastors that pray for human traffickers, describing trafficking in persons as a sin against God and man.
The Christian body also condemned the act of selling of anointing oil and handkerchiefs to those who volunteered to be trafficked. Bishop Oriname Oyonude Kure, chairman of the state CAN, who addressed journalists in Benin, frowned at the activities of traffickers, which had led to deaths of thousands of youths.
According to Bishop Kure, “Any pastor involved in the act, either through prayers or directly, is an enemy of the church. The Bible is the spiritual force that binds us all as Christians. Anyone involved in human trafficking, while claiming to be a pastor, is lying. CAN is saying to such pastors, repent. God is against it, our culture is against it, our religion is against it and CAN condemns it in totality.”
Besides, CAN, national also lent its voice to the crusade against trafficking in persons. Its National President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, had in a statement signed by his Special Assistant, Media and Communications, Pastor Adebayo Adedeji, urged the federal government to overhaul the security agencies in the country for effective and efficient service delivery.
In spite of all these, however, the buying and selling in human beings have refused to reduce. This perhaps, triggered the traditional dimension deployed by the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, on Friday, March 9, 2018 to lay curses on human traffickers.
Also cursed were the native doctors who subject victims of human trafficking to oaths of secrecy, violators of the order banning Community Development Associations and others whose business is to initiate the sons and daughters of the land into various cult groups.
An oath taking process, according to victims, involve the invocation of parts of their bodies as collateral to force them pay back the money spent by the agents who facilitate their journey to Europe where they end up either as prostitutes especially for the females.
During the cursing process, Oba Ewuare II said: “Those aiding and abetting human trafficking through the use of black magic and subjecting them to the oaths of secrecy should desist from it henceforth or face the wrath of the gods.”
According to the monarch, “You native doctors whose businesses are to subject people to the oaths of secrecy and encouraging this evil act on the land, you have to repent, stop doing it. This is not a joking matter and if you do not repent, you have to wait for the repercussion.”
He warned that anyone persisting should be ready to face the wrath of the gods and directed the traditional priests present to revoke the curses and oaths already placed on trafficked victims.
The Edo paramount ruler said henceforth those who are under oaths of secrecy have been set free and at liberty to air their views and reveal their sponsors without fear of any harm from their sponsors.
“We want to use this medium to tell those who are under any oaths of secrecy that they are now free. We revoke the oath today,” he prayed.
The royal father said the interest of the palace is to work for the development and progress of the state and that all hands must be on deck to work towards that direction by doing what is right.
“What the Palace stands for is peace and the development of the state. I want to use this medium to tell you that the act of using charms to aid trafficking, the palace seriously frowns at it.
“We want us to join hands together to fight against human trafficking in the land,” he said, adding that there have been positive reports about Edo State and that such positive report must be sustained.
The Oba said the state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has pleaded with him to help reduce the spate of human trafficking in the state adding that before now, he has been in the vanguard against human trafficking in the state.
The state, he pointed out, have had enough of the embarrassment that comes with human trafficking and it is time to put an immediate end to it.
He stated that while the palace has nothing against the practice of native medicine, it will not condone a situation where it is used to “perpetrate evil in the land through aiding and abetting human trafficking.”
Those who took part in the swearing exercise were the Ohen Okhuae, Ohen Ovia, Ohen noriyekeogba, Ohen Ake, Ohen Niwuo, Native Doctors, Ohen Sango, Odionwere, Iwueki and the Enigies.
However, time will tell the potency of the curses on perpetrators of human trafficking by the Benin traditional system.