Today, the 30th day of July 2020 the world once again marks the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, a day set aside to raise awareness onthe situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights. The theme for this year “Committed to the Cause – Working on the Frontline to end Human Trafficking” focuses on First Responders to human trafficking. These are the persons working in different sectors – identifying, supporting, counseling and seeking justice for victims of human trafficking.
The Nigerian Bar Association, Abuja Branch (The Unity Bar), is alarmed by the horrifying tales of children (and young adults) trafficked through deception practiced on parents or guardians of the economically weak in rural areas or urban slums by traffickers who pose as benefactors to these vulnerable class. The tales of the barbarity, bestiality and dehumanization these victims are subjected to question our collective humanity.
The efforts of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP),established by government as the primary First Responder to trafficking unfortunately and despite the commitment of the Agency, appear to be a drop in the ocean on account of the enormity of the problem and the paucity of funds available to them.
It is a serious concern that rather than abating, the predisposing factors are increasing day by day. Thekillings in Southern Kaduna and many parts of the country – Boko Haram terrorism in the North East, Banditry in the North West, Herdsmen killings in Southern Kaduna and other parts of the Middle Belt, and armed robbery and kidnapping across the length and breadth of the country, all contribute to this state of anomie.
This climate of insecurity has sent hundreds of thousands away from their homes to IDP camps, and many others left to roam the streets in search of alms to feed. This has adversely affected family cohesion and led to mass destitution thereby weakening family ties and societal values. Under these conditions, children and young adults easily become victims of trafficking thereby overwhelming First Responders by their sheer numbers.
In view of the lasting negative effect of trafficking on society in general, the Unity Bar makes the following calls:
To the President:
1. Urgently reorganize, reengineer, reconfigure and retool Nigeria’s security architecture as well as raise the morale of the personnel of the security and intelligence forces to put an end to the intractable security challenges across the country.2. Work with the National Assembly and the Governors to address the root cause of the security challenges particularly in the Northern States where out of school children roam the streets in their millions making them available to be exploited for nefarious activities. In this regard, education must be funded to the minimum standard as set by the UNESCO.3. Address the unacceptably high rate of youth unemployment by creating REAL jobs.
To State Governors and Council Chairmen:
1. Governors of States where crises have been protracted should rise above politics and get to the root cause(s) of the problems. This will engender confidence in government and make solutions easier to achieve.2. Responsibly make sacrifices to save our nation from imminent collapse by rejecting the temptation to deal with the state treasury as personal property. Good governance at the state level, in particular, will yield dividends in order, peace and stability. 3. Prioritize education as the best legacy that can be bequeathed to the next generation and invest in it maximally.
To Legislators at all levels:
1. Take their responsibility of appropriation and oversight very seriously and check the excesses of the executive arm. Eschew corruption and see their duty of representation as a trust.
To All Nigerians:
1. We must all resolve to hold government accountable and reject their antics of using ethnicity, region or religion to divide us and steal in our names while benefitting themselves and families. The various probes at the National Assembly where they feign to faint while settling themselves with billions of Naira should open our eyes to what is going on.2. Quickly report to the NBA Branches in their various states, NAPTIP, the Police, and other Security agencies when they suspect that a child has been trafficked. Silence is conspiracy and eternal vigilance should now be the watchword.
Hauwa ShekarauEsq. Prince Adetosoye Adebiyi Esq.
Branch Chair Branch Secretary
Chioma Onyenucheya-Uko Esq.
Chair, Human Rights Committee