By JOY ODIGIE
BENIN- The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), began a campaign and dialogue session in endemic communities in Edo on Saturday.
NAPTIP organised the exercise in collaboration with the Palace of Oba of Benin with a view to curbing trafficking in the state.
Its Director General, Dr Fatima Waziri-Azi, said the campaign was targeted at nine endemic communities in Edo.
They are Dunmwuniye, Idogbo, Obagie, Ewesie, Ehor, Igieduma, Ogan, Ugoneki and Abudu communities located in three local government areas of the state.
NAPTIP’s Benin zonal office covering Edo, Delta and Bayelsa recorded at least 162 cases of human trafficking in the past 12 months and rescued 96 victims during the same period.
Represented by Mr Nduka Nwanwenne, Zonal Commander of NAPTIP, Waziri-Azi said the agency would continue to take proactive steps to fight trafficking, especially through collaborative efforts.
She said the partnership would target critical stakeholders who could help with the campaigns against trafficking.
“It will target critical stakeholders like women leaders, vigilance groups, artisans, religious leaders, town cries, teachers, students and youths,’’ she said.
Waziri-Azi commended the Oba of Benin, Ewuare 11, for his commitment to the fight against trafficking.
In his personal remarks, Nwanwenne explained that the campaign would provide a better way to get at the root causes of trafficking in the identified communities and provide solutions.
“Victims are recruited from communities where they don’t have knowledge about human trafficking. So we are here to collaborate with all stakeholders to find solutions to trafficking and illegal migration.
“We are not telling people not to travel abroad, but that they should travel the legitimate way,’’ he said.
Earlier, Chief Isaac Oghofua, the Oyeoba of Benin, and member of the Oba of Benin Task Force against Human Trafficking, said traditional institutions in the state were strongly averse to trafficking.
He said the Palace and all traditional institutions had been mandated to kick out trafficking, just as the Palace placed a curse on those responsible for trafficking.
“The Palace is highly against human trafficking and it approved this sensitisation in every nook and cranny of the state,’’ he said.
In his remarks, Mr Osasere Osawaru, a youth in Idunmwuniye community where the campaign held, noted that poverty and unemployment were fuelling trafficking and illegal migration.
Idunmwuniye is in Uhunmwonde Local Government Area of Edo.
Osawaru appealed to governments at all levels to prioritise youth employment and job creation to stem human trafficking. (NAN)