Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, on Monday, stated that laws against the twin evils of human trafficking and modern slavery alone wouldn’t be able to cure the menace but demanded that governments globally punish the perpetrators.
Speaking at the opening of a consultative meeting with the CommonWealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) United Kingdom delegation to Nigeria and other stakeholders hosted by the House of Representatives Committee on Inter-Parliamentary Relations in Abuja, Dogara said that justice must be seen to be done against perpetrators of the heinous crimes against humanity.
“We should not be unmindful of the fact that laws alone, no matter how well crafted cannot solve this evil.
“For instance, Britain is a world leader in modern slavery legislation but yet London is an international hub for modern slavery. Research conducted by the CO-OP in 2017 suggested that four out of 10 people in the UK are not sure what modern slavery was.
“In most countries, the figures are more appalling. We are not likely to succeed in the fight against this evil with near pervasive ignorance of its existence.
“To win this war, we need to up our advocacy because with increased awareness comes increased determination to act. I charge us not to forget that survivors and victims of this evil are not entitled to pity but justice.
“Justice is best served in this case if we help to bring perpetrators to justice and mobilise resources with which to bring sustainable comfort to the survivors,” the speaker stated.
While tasking stakeholders to ensure exhaustive discussion on how to address the challenges, the speaker added that “we can make history if we don’t give up the fight.
“The evils of the modern slavery/human trafficking/forced labour being perpetrated in Nigeria and several other countries are obvious to all of us.
“They present one of the worst cases of inhuman treatment and wickedness of man to fellow human beings. They also contribute to the high incidence of poverty, social distress and crimes generally in countries where they occur.
“The global community has made efforts, particularly in the last two decades to stamp out this sore on humanity’s conscience with mixed results.
“Nigeria, as we know, occupies a central position in the West African axis as a country of origin, transit and destination for victims of human trafficking for forced labour, sexual abuse and other forms of exploitation.
“Men, women and most especially children are trafficked from Nigeria to Western Europe, Middle East and some African countries.
Victims from neighbouring countries like Benin, Cameroun, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali are also brought into Nigeria for forced and hard labour,” Dogara said.
In addition to these, Dogara stated that there are prevalent incidences of rural to urban trafficking within Nigeria, in which women and children are trafficked for domestic, agricultural and industrial labour, as well as sexual exploitation and street begging.
“Researches have also confirmed that parents, particularly from the northern parts of Nigeria, force their children to engage in sustained begging for economic survival or daily sustenance.
“The establishment of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) through the NAPTIP Enforcement and Administration Act, 2003, was one of the first decisive steps taken by the Nigerian government to curb the illicit human trafficking enterprise.
“In 2015, the parliament passed an Act to amend the law, which increased the penalties for trafficking offences to a minimum of five years imprisonment, among others.
However, in spite of the various improvements in the law, the envisaged effective apprehension and conviction of offenders have not been achieved.
“This explains the need for the Trafficking in Persons Prohibition, Enforcement and Administration (Amendment) Bill, 2018. The bill, which seeks to amend the 2015 Act, will establish Special Trafficking Court,
expand the composition of the governing board of NAPTIP by including members from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), increase penalties and criminalise certain offences, among other provisions.
“It is hoped that this Bill, when passed into law, will help to tame the hydra-headed monster of human trafficking, sexual exploitation and related offences,” he said.