The violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram, has recruited and used child soldiers, as young as 12-year-olds, as well as abducted women and girls, some of whom are subjected to domestic servitude, forced labour and sex slavery through forced marriages to its militants, the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report has stated.
The report however noted that the government was making significant efforts to do so by increasing anti-trafficking prosecutions and convictions and by providing extensive specialised anti-trafficking trainings to officials from various ministries and agencies.
It observed that the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and Other Related Matters had increased protection efforts by developing a formal referral mechanism for victim’s protection, increasing the capacity of its shelters, and identifying and providing services to a larger number of victims.
The report reads in part, “Despite these efforts, the government has yet to pass draft legislation that will restrict the ability of judges to offer fines in lieu of prison term during sentencing and, with the exception of receiving training from NAPTIP, the Ministry of Labor did not make any new efforts to address labor trafficking during the reporting period,” it said.
Additionally, despite the growing number of Nigerian trafficking victims identified abroad, the government has yet to implement formal procedures for the return and reintegration of Nigerian victims; consequently, many victims are not afforded adequate care upon their return to Nigeria.”
It added that this was of particular concern, as some European countries denied Nigerian victims’ attempts to seek asylum or to access European victim programmes on the basis of the perceived availability of adequate victim services in Nigeria.
It observed that the provisions of the 2003 Trafficking in Persons Law Enforcement and Administration Act ensured that identified trafficking victims were not penalised for unlawful acts committed as a result of being trafficked. (Punch)