By Temitope Ponle
Abuja – Federal Government has reiterated its commitment to protect Nigerians in distress globally and to tackle the menace of child trafficking.
Senior Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs and the Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said this when she received a 14-year-old victim of child labour from South Korea in Abuja on Friday.
The 14-year-old girl from Imo State was taken to South Korea in September 2015 by her mother’s sister who promised to further her education, but subjected her to manual labour.
She said “this girl is just a case of family maltreating family and what she is not aware of is subsequently she will have been made a prostitute, maybe when she turns 16.
“I want to thank our embassy in South Korea for this initiative of ensuring that this young girl got back to Nigeria.
“The embassy saved this girl’s life and we are going to hand her over to a very comfortable and relatively secure shelter, courtesy of NAPTIP.
“She will go back to school and we will do what we are supposed to do as instructed by the president and foreign affairs ministry, that any Nigerian in distress anywhere in the world be taken care of.”
Dabiri-Erewa condemned the spate of child trafficking and labour and reiterated government’s commitment to ensure that perpetrators were brought to book.
She added that “when a woman does this to a sister, using a 14-year-old girl to make money; with stories like these, we ask where our moral values are, even as women.”
Mr Eze Thomas, the Head of Chancery, Nigerian Embassy in Seoul, said the girl was picked up by the president of the Nigerian community in Seoul and her return to Nigeria was facilitated by the embassy.
Thomas said a report on the matter would be submitted to the ministry and sanctions meted out accordingly.
He explained that “the girl’s passport was seized by her aunt, Esther, and I gave her six hours to release it which she eventually did.
“The ambassador, Amb. Amin Dalhatu, facilitated her transportation and other logistics; this is the first time this is happening and we are happy with the Nigerian community in South Korea.”
Narrating her ordeal, the girl said her aunt made her falsify her age to work in a factory to earn money.
She said the money earned was paid to the aunt, who used it to travel to the U.S.
The girl added that the aunt promised her mother that she would take care of her education in South Korea but was expelled from school in the first week due to non-payment of fees.
“I was not able to go to school since then and my aunt took me to a factory where she worked and asked me to say I was 27 years old so I could work.”
The girl said she was constantly maltreated by the aunt, who later left South Korea for U.S. and left in the care of a South African lady.
She said she suffered further maltreatment till she run away and located the Korean welfare centre that handed her over to another relative of hers in South Korea who also abused her.
There, she met a Nigerian pastor who eventually linked her up with the Nigerian community and the embassy, she added. (NAN)