Home News NAPTIP: Combating Modern-day Slavery in Nigeria

NAPTIP: Combating Modern-day Slavery in Nigeria


By Oluwakemi Oladipo

To be a slave is to be controlled by another person or persons, so that your will does not determine your life’s course, and rewards for your work and sacrifices are not yours to claim.
Kevin Bales, one of the world’s leading experts on contemporary slavery, says “people are enslaved by violence and held against their wills for purposes of exploitation.” In his book– Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy—Bales says there are still about 27 million slaves in the world today!
The transatlantic slave trade of between the 15th and 19th century brought the word ‘slavery’ to the fore, because it had been practiced all over the world for as long as there had been man.
The abolition of (the transatlantic) slave trade in the 1830s ended the large shipments of African slaves to the so called Western world of Europe and America, including their plantations in the West Indies. But it did not end local or domestic slavery of yore.
However, modern day slavery in Nigeria bared its ugly fangs several years ago when some compatriots started cunning fellow Nigerians into servitude, either within the country or mostly abroad. The words ‘Human Trafficking’ thus became a household name and government had to come down hard on the perpetrators.
People of all ages were, and are still being lured from their homes or towns with mouth-watering promises, only to find themselves in servitude, with the reward of their labour—be it prostitution, bone-breaking menial jobs—especially after being trafficked to foreign lands, being paid to the conman. The conman is the owner of those he/she had trafficked.
The Federal Government, in its efforts to fight trafficking in persons, through the National Assembly enacted the Trafficking In Persons (Prohibition) Law (TIP) Enforcement and (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act 2003 (amended in 2005).
The law is a domestication of the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, particularly in Women and Children (Palermo Protocol).
The NAPTIP Act 2003 (as amended in 2005) defines TIP in its Section 50 as:“all acts and attempted acts involved in the recruitment, transportation, within or across Nigeria border, purchase, sale, transfer, receipt or harbouring of a person involving the use of or harbouring of a person involving the use of holding the person whether for or not in involuntary servitude (domestic sexual or Involuntary servitude (domestic, sexual or reproductive) in forced or bonded labour or in slavery‐like condition.
The agency followed the six geo-political zones arrangement on ground for its administrative efficiency– with Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Ekiti and Osun states forming the South-West Zone .
Also, to better ensure that victims’ rights are respected, NAPTIP formed a committee in mid-2009 to review ‘victim care policies’, aiming to strike a balance between ensuring victims’ safety in shelters and promoting their freedom of movement.
Mr Joseph Famakid, the South-West Zonal Commander of NAPTIP in Lagos, says the agency had secured 233 convictions in courts in cases against human traffickers in the zone in the past 10 years.
“In 2013, Lagos Zone alone recorded 17 convictions of human traffickers and so far in 2014, we have recorded seven convictions. Presently, we have about 54 cases pending in various courts in the zone.’’
Famakid also said the agency had positively influenced the lives of many victims of human trafficking by ensuring they were engaged in various legitimate businesses like catering and hairdressing, through
its partner agencies, so that they could become self-reliant.
“As soon as they become professionals in those fields, our partners will return them to us for empowerment. This involves equipping them with tools and other materials based on their field, needed to start life again.
“We do this periodically. We also rent shops for them to practice the skills they have acquired and monitor them to ensure that they don’t sell the equipment given to them.
“We also do what we call family tracing by returning them to their places of origin and we continue to monitor their progress. This is how we bring them back and re-integrate them into the society.’’
A sad twist to ‘man being the owner of another man,’ alias slavery, was also introduced recently in Nigeria through “baby factories”. In this wise, young girls—some with unwanted pregnancies or forcefully impregnated—are deprived of their babies right from the labour rooms.
Some of the mothers actually sign agreements to sell their babies. Some of these cases are being prosecuted across Nigeria.
Such babies are then sold to those who will use, resell, export, and do all sorts of odd things with them because they are ‘purchased human beings’ and are owned like shoes and cars.
Observers say domestic animals, especially pets, have much more freedom and dignity than trafficked persons as they are always hidden from lawful authorities and do illegal duties for their owners.
Human traffickers are known to be very diabolic in that they hypnotise, put them on blood-chilling oaths, or charm them to remain in servitude, more or less zombies.
“The victims believe in the efficacy of the oaths, so it takes us a long process to be able to convince them that they can trust us and they can give us information,’’ says Famakid.
Famakid urges the public, including NGOs, to assist NAPTIP “to fight the modern day slavery.’’
Some lawyers have also called for better ways of improving the work of NAPTIP, including better funding.
Mr Nice Ologun, a Lagos-based lawyer, notes that the government was yet to satisfy the minimum standards provided in the 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act, as amended.
“Government should grant the same attention given to gay marriage to human trafficking, by legislating remarkable preventive measures that will largely reduce the menace,” he says.
Another lawyer, Mr Spurgeon Ataene says: “Nigeria has an anti-trafficking act, Lagos State has since adopted it in Section 274 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State,2011”.
He also calls for the re-orientation of the populace on the dangers of human trafficking and the prosecution of offenders.
In all, most victims of human trafficking, excluding underage, have a large share of blame in the calamity that has befallen them. They can be called greedy and unreasonable.
If not, how else can someone you have known from childhood in a village disappear into the city for a few months, come back to the village with a big car (borrowed or owned) and promise to make you a millionaire and you follow him!
It is like seeing some gullible clan heads in some old films selling their own people to Europeans during the transatlantic slave trade for pittances like mirrors and rum (alias firewater). (NANFeatures)

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