The need for collaborative efforts at addressing issues of human trafficking formed the crux of a 3-day sensitization activities targeted on prevention of Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants held over the weekend in Awka.
The series of activities were put together by Network Against Child Trafficking, Abuse & Labour (NACTAL), with support from European Union and FIIAP, a Spanish corporation implementing Action Against Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants, A-ATIPSOM, in Nigeria.
The first day witnessed a town hall stakeholders’ enlightenment meeting and public awareness programme, while the second day featured road awareness walk on human trafficking across major streets of Awka, Anambra State Capital.
Day three witnessed visitation to schools across the state where the students were enlightened on the emerging trends in human trafficking.
In her remarks, the Lilian Ezenwa, who is the NACTAL National Vice President, said the event aims to aggregate ideas to rid the state and the Southeast of human trafficking cases.
According to her, it also focusses on supporting in training and engagement of stakeholders to speak up on the emerging trends and understand what is required of them when it happens around them.
The Anambra State Commander, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Mrs Judith Ibadin regretted that Anambra State has witnessed a spike in human trafficking cases, the reason NAPTIP is seeking collaboration with all stakeholders to fight the evil.
She revealed that NAPTIP does not only rescue victims but also investigate and prosecute perpetrators and provide rehabilitation services to the victims.
“Human trafficking has eaten deep into the fabrics of the state, with evolving trends like girls being trafficked to other African country for sexual exploitation.
“In the past one year, over 40 heart-touching cases of human trafficking involving women and children have been recorded in Anambra in the past one year.
“Issues of human trafficking involving children, baby factory, sex labour and other trends in illegal sales of babies, have now become a source of worry to the agency, hence the decision to create the state division.
“The NAPTIP being the sole agency mandated by the Federal Government to address issues of human trafficking, has done a lot in fighting the challenge in the state,” she said.
Joseph Sanwo, a Senior Project Officer for A-ATIPSOM, explained that they are in Anambra because it has been established that the state has serious challenges of human trafficking.
“It is heartwarming that the initial denial that there are no ravages of human trafficking in Anambra, is no more there.
“People of the state are now coming out to say that this problem is here and that is a good sign.
“It is good because silence has always been a major contributor to this scourge and because these traffickers are close confidants of the victims, I think this programme is a major breakthrough,” he said.
Sanwo disclosed that the A-ATIPSOM initiative has four major partners- NACTAL, NAPTIP, Police and the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, commending NACTAL for what it is doing in the state.
The Anambra State Coordinator of League of Women Voters of Nigeria, Dr Ego Uzoezie observed that it appears that the government is handicapped, hence the need for stakeholders to unite and fight the scourge.
According to her, an understanding that children are God’s gifts and should not be abused through trafficking, will also help stop the problem.
On her part, the Anambra NACTAL Coordinator, Eucharia Onyemobi explained that participants at the town hall meeting were drawn from the various stakeholder groups, to help take the message down to the grassroots.
Meanwhile, security agencies in Anambra have vowed to support efforts at eradicating human trafficking and smuggling of migrants in Anambra State.
Speaking on behalf of security agencies, the state Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, Evaristus Obiyo represented by DSC Stephen Okoye and his Nigeria Immigration Service counterpart, Ngozi Odikpo represented by Ifeanyi Okonkwo pledged their respective agencies’ commitment to fighting the scourge.