Monday letter1

I want to appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to save Nigerians from slave auctions in Mali. There is urgent need to rescue more than 20,000 Nigerian girls trafficked to Mali. There is urgent need to protect Nigerian citizens from being sold into slavery. I want to describe the slave trade as a “sickening crime against humanity.” I am wondering why Nigeria is “indifferent”, despite being one of the most affected countries. This is a humiliation not just to Nigeria and Africa, but also to human civilization and the fundamental principles of human rights under the United Nations Charter. Malian government does not have the means or the commitment to crack down on the perpetrators as their hands are full, hence these people smugglers are killing, torturing, extorting and detaining migrants at will.

The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) says it is making efforts to rescue the girls trapped in different parts of Mali. Mrs Julie Okah-Donli, the Director- General of NAPTIP, who made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja, said the victims were trapped in different parts of Mali, for prostitution. Okah-Donli said that the trafficked victims were discovered after NAPTIP sent a fact-finding mission to Mali last December following some security reports. She said: ”We sent a fact-finding mission to Mali last month and the mission came with a report that about 20,000 Nigerian girls had been trafficked to different parts of Mali. Many of the girls said that they were deceived that they were being taken to “Malisia”, making it sound like Malaysia to work in hotels, restaurants, hairdressing salons and some other jobs. “Some of the girls arrived there in their school uniforms, meaning that they were kidnapped on their way to or from school,” she said.

The NAPTIP boss decried the living condition of trafficked Nigerians, adding that some of the girls were sold for N600, 000 and were made to service, mainly miners. “There are over one million Nigerians residents in Mali out of which about 20,000 are trapped into forced prostitution. The conditions are horrible; they are kept in shanties in the thick of the forest where they cannot escape and with the “madames” watching over them. Their job, mainly, is to service miners from other parts of Africa who are predominant in Northern Mali. They are bought for N600, 000 and they are made to pay back N1.8million or N2million within six months before regaining freedom and also becoming madams.”

Inwalomhe Donald, Bamako, Mali

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