Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NANTIP) and the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation (CBAAC) have called for action to end the scourge of human trafficking and illegal migration in Nigeria.
The advocacy was made during the occasion of the international day for the remembrance of the slave trade and its abolition with the theme: “My Hands My Freedom: A Roadmap to Curtailing Irregular Migration”.
The Director General NANTIP, Julie Okah-Donli, demanded urgent need for sensitisation of relevant stakeholders of the Nigerian society on the scourge of human trafficking and the danger to communal existence.
She lamented that slavery that had been abolished during the colonial era had resurfaced in modern times as human trafficking.
“For more than 2,000 years, people in different parts of the world forced their fellow humans into slavery as was evident in the Trans- Atlantic slave trade of 1500 and 1800. The abolitionists together with the League of Nations finally killed slave trade. However, behind the curtain of propaganda, disbelief and denial lay a scene of reality that proves that the chain of enslavement still remains strong and persistent,” Donli said.
She describes human trafficking as a serious human rights violation of modern-day world by the traffickers, often motivated by profit, to acquire and exploit other human beings by improper means such as force, fraud and deception.
Donli said that human trafficking and illegal migration was a great global challenge, obstacles to development, the rule of law and a serious threat to human security, noting that both crimes directly affected the lives of human beings.
Donli called for the coming together of all for a concrete action that would end the scourge perpetrated by unpatriotic Nigerians.
On her part, the Acting DG CBAAC, Mrs Ndidi Aimienwauu, attributed extreme corruption, poverty, conflict, climate change and other economic reasons to be bolstering irregular migration on the African continent.
She lamented the high unemployment rate in Africa, saying it is a factor that encourages African youths, to out of desperation for greener pasture, attempt making the perilous journey to America and Europe.
The DG said that in the desperate pursuit, many of the stranded irregular migrants became commodities for financial gains on transit, while some held in debt bondage, severally abused, starved, tortured and infected with STDs before being deported to Nigeria.
“The situation in which these migrants usually find themselves is quite dehumanising and not by any means better than slavery. Generally irregular migration is more often a journey that begins with hope but ends in despair,” she said.
In his keynote address, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition was a constant reminder that for over 400 years, more than 18 million people were taken as slaves to the Americas, describing the tragic moment as one of the darkest chapters in human history.
Mohammed said the commemoration offered the opportunity to remember, honour and immortalise those who suffered and died under the brutal slavery system, as well as its abolition.