Saturday 17 October 2015

Human Traffickers Make 40 Billion Dollars Annually, Say NAPTIP, UNODC

THE National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) have revealed that human trafficking cartels across the globe make a whooping 40 billion dollars annually from this illicit business.

The two organisations made this disclosure during a joint visit to Rutam House, headquarters of The Guardian yesterday, and they said they were all out to sensitise the public on the need to ‘stop the crime’ of human trafficking. They strongly advocated the need for better management of migration in Nigeria, as the issue of migration has become a serious problem even though it is an international one.

The delegation which was led by the Head of Public Relations Department of NAPTIP, Mr. Josiah Emerole, who noted that NAPTIP and its partner, UNODC were collaborating to put an end to human trafficking and other related crimes, noted that most youths would do almost anything to get out of Nigeria, which has led to a lot of wasted lives.

Emerole who lamented that some media organisations were not doing enough at ensuring that these societal anomalies were corrected, however, urged The Guardian and other newspaper houses to rise up and help the young ones to stay on the right track.

He also stressed the importance of shaping the minds of the young ones before they cross the seas and deserts for prostitution and a life of crime overseas, noting that, sadly, many parents and guardians are not only aware of this evil but even encourage their children to engage in illicit travelling.

“Some youths are deceived with the promises of playing football in China and India, phony scholarships, and some are lured overseas by their greed. We think it is better to help the youngsters before they die in the desert or vanish in the Mediterranean or are subjected to prostitution on the streets of Italy or Spain,” he said.
He added that the youths are usually indebted to these criminal gangs, striving to work to send money home but they find out that they never send money home because they’re never free.

“Some parents would even take loan to sponsor their children to go and prostitute themselves in Europe. They come to the youths and promise to take them abroad to work but tell them that they shouldn’t tell their parents. Why won’t you tell your parents if someone wants to really help you? We decided to partner with NAPTIP to help curb this monster.”

He added that UNODC are the guardians of the UN Convention against trans-national organised crime.
“We are here in Lagos to do some programmes, going to schools to create awareness. We are also visiting media houses so that they can know what we are doing. In the fight against human trafficking and smuggling of migrants, we cannot do it alone; we need partnership with all strata of the society and the media. Whatever we do, if the media is not involved, we may not be able to achieve much. We are here to interface with you,” he said.

The Head of public Affairs in UNODC, Mr. Sylvester Atere narrated the challenges encountered by the anti-human trafficking agency NAPTIP, during prosecution.
According to him, “This illegal trade is worth between 32 to 40 billion dollars annually, so it is second only to drugs and smuggling of arms. The people behind these are powerful elements, powerful because the long arm of the law has not caught up with them.

They are not above the law. This is to give us the picture of what we are talking about. They cannot be more powerful than the agency because the agency has the full backing of the law, the Federal Government and the Nigerian people.”
He added that in the course of trafficking of migrants, more than 10,000 persons have perished between January and now.

“The Challenge of migration is not new to humanity. Europe is overwhelmed by refugee crisis. We don’t want to wait until it is too late, that is why we are engaging the public. When it comes to prosecution, most of the time, the criminal elements are members of the same family.

“Most of the time, they are related and at the end of the day, there are a lot of sentiments. Most of the time, the victims don’t open up because they were made to swear an oath. These things affect prosecution because at the end of the day, the victims would not agree to press charges and the traffickers usually walk away scot-free.”

He noted that the crime of human trafficking is victim-centred because NAPTIP cannot convict anyone except the victim testifies against the suspects.
“If you arrest hundreds of suspects and there are no victim to say they have committed the crime, the suspects are freed.”

According to Atere, NAPTIP has nine shelters spread across the six geo-political zones of the country that houses victims of trafficking, where they are rehabilitated before being re-integrated into the society.
Scarcity of funds, he said, has prevented more states from benefitting from this noble gesture.

Supporting the cause of NAPTIP, another representative of the UNODC, Mr. Mikhael Jensen, reiterated their commitment to their objectives and stressed that they wished to stop the crimes of human trafficking and smuggling.

He also implored the help of the media in fighting this hydra-headed dragon by sensitising the youths early in life, because according to him, trafficking of persons for prostitution and all other illegalities was the second biggest illegal industry after drugs.

He also stressed the importance of getting the message out as early and quickly as possible so that youths do not get brainwashed by these traffickers.
Going further, he talked about internal trafficking, which has now become very rampant in the country and seem to have a taken a life of its own.

“Many Nigerians now use underage children as house helps, bringing them in from neighbouring countries and even from the north and southern parts of the country, maltreating them and refusing them access to education. The use of underage children as house helps have been prohibited in Nigeria and is now a punishable offence by law. The use of underage children in brothels and hotels is also an offence,” he said and urged people to anonymously report such instances to NAPTIP and urgent action would be taken.

He implored Nigerians to be on alert and call their toll free numbers whenever any victim of abuse or trafficking is spotted.

He classified the latest evil trend of baby factories that have sprung up in some parts of Nigeria, as another form of human trafficking.


Guardian Newspaper 

Image credit: FBI

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