The menace of internal and external human trafficking has been prevalent within Nigeria, making it a source, transit and landing place for victims, especially women and children and subjecting them to forced labor, exploitation and prostitution. Perpetrators exploit the most vulnerable, mostly in rural areas and while the government has not been successful in meeting the minimum standards required for eliminating this menace, significant progress has been recorded. In fact, the increasing efforts on the anti-trafficking capability such as sanctioning perpetrators and convicting more criminals has led to the country being upgraded to Tier 2.
National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has however raised concerns about human traffickers invading the digital space, employing the digital tools in luring victims with unrealistic opportunities. The agency noted that many young individuals on social media were falling victim to these antics, indicating an imminent shift from physical recruitment to virtual, via online assessment and proxy negotiations. Young individuals with social presence where thus urged to be wary of the tricks by these online perpetrators.
Journalists urged to herald events for World Day against Human Trafficking.
In a released statement, it was disclosed that human traffickers had adapted their operative mode with online advertisements to exploit and recruit victims through available personal information. NAPTIP urged Nigerians to look out for several advisories, so as to get acquainted with these trends, as well as the red flags for the identification and quick reportage of suspicious activities. This, the agency noted, would play an important role in curbing this menace and also helping those that have become victims of these type of acts.
Professor Fatima Waziri-Azi, NAPTIP’s Director General in August 2022, urged journalists at a press conference to spearhead week-long events to propagate the World Day Against Human Trafficking, themed “Use and Abuse of Technology”, in a bid to salvage the trends that has plagued the social media landscape, even more than physical interactions. She explained that the event would focus on the significance of technology as a tool for enabling and impeding the menace of human trafficking.
NAPTIP records an increase in fake online job advertorials.
The Director General, in a statement, noted that the timeliness of the theme could not have come at a better time, with these perpetrators operating on a high grade via online platforms, as they do offline. She also noted that the Covid-19 situation had taught everyone of the need for re-enforcing the digital communication channels to enhance a massive digital transformation. On the paradoxical nature of technology, she indicated while technology was a major boost for enhancing human lives, it was still being used to indulge in heinous activities like trafficking.
It was further disclosed that NAPTIP had recorded a significant increase in the report of fake online jobs advertorials and fake scholarships all advertised on social media. This was identified as the scheme being used to recruit unsuspecting victims. This aside, social media was also identified as a tool enacted by traffickers to control their victims such as threatening to leak their exclusive images and videos online. Prof. Fatima thus noted that NAPTIP was collaborating with META for monitoring these online activities that expose Nigerians to this menace.
IOM collaborating with FG & UN to help vulnerable victims.
The Acting Chief of Mission, the International Organization for Migration, Ms. Prestage Murima, confirmed that recently, human traffickers have gained immense mastery of the digital space to lure Nigerians, mostly between the age range of 18-34. She disclosed that IOM was collaborating with the federal government, United Nations, private organizations, as well as development partners to help vulnerable migrants, including victims of human trafficking. Mr. Jose Nsang, a representative of the International and Ibero-American for Administration and Public Policies noted ways by which these perpetrators trafficked victims included religious pilgrims, cultural tourism, sporting events, school excursions and many more.