In the last few years, there had been several news on major news outlets on the issue of human trafficking. From Italy to Libya and some countries in the Middle East, Nigerians have been known to have been trafficked and forcefully converted to sex slaves and/or maids, sometimes without getting paid. This modern-day form of slavery has gained notoriety as a low-risk but high-profit criminal activity. It is also expanding in scale at alarming rates and damaging humanity and the economic lives of people. Human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of people through the use of threats, force, or deception for the purpose of exploiting them for profit.
It is ranked among the fastest-growing criminal activities in the world, with firearms smuggling comparably considered the second most organized criminal network worldwide. This has generated a lot of concerns among national governments and experts in criminology because of its adverse effect on social lives and society in general. The threat is even becoming more alarming in Nigeria. Returnees from Libya, Italy, and some other foreign countries have sadden tales about unpleasant experiences there. Unfortunately, men, women, and children from all ages have become victims of this crime. It is not uncommon in some Asian countries for toddlers to be kidnapped and transported to a drug farm as potential workers.
Parents/guardians relaxed and uncaring about their ward’s movements.
Regrettably, parents and guardians have become relaxed and indifferent to their ward’s movements. They have become so uncaring that they do not even notice the antics and pranks of their wards to evade their supervision. These actions are not only risk-infested but also dangerous to them and their immediate family. Irrelevant expeditions, secret trips, and visits with or without the knowledge of parents or guardian, have been identified as some of the major factors that have made many victims vulnerable to their oppressors. In turn, they have exposed themselves and their loved ones to avoidable hurt. Many have also thrown caution to the wind in their overzealousness by deliberately ignoring the directives, security tips and public advisories regularly issued by the Department of State Services (DSS) and other law enforcement agencies, especially to job applicants to always guard against falling prey to juicy job adverts without enough information.
These adverts do not contain adequate information on location, specifications and schedules. Some jobs come with vague visas and oversea travel promotions which could be the handiwork of human traffickers, scammers, or their agents. Security agents advise to shun the temptation of subscribing to all these. Also, it is important that one verifies the information before acting on any calls about untoward incidents involving friends and family. As well as being careful when visiting new friends or meeting colleagues at unfamiliar locations. Social media users should also exercise restraint in doling out personal and vital information on social media platforms.
A synergy between security agencies and the public is needed.
Given the secrecy, sophistication, and carefully planned organization in human trafficking, a synergy among security and law enforcement agencies as well as with the public is crucial to overcoming it. Security agencies such as the DSS, the State Security Services (SSS), the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP), the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Civil Society Organizations (CSO) and well-meaning Nigerians should pool intelligence and resources in the fight against human traffickers and their sponsors and abettors.
Collaboration between these entities may not be the simple solution to this issue because some corrupt and compromised officers within the security agencies and even greedy parents and guardians are supportive of this criminal activity and are in cohort with those perpetrating it. But amidst this, agencies such as the DSS have not relented in their collaboration with other agencies to bring these criminals to book. In January 2022, the DSS assisted NAPTIP in rescuing a Burundian woman and her three children from traffickers in Umunoha village in the Mbaitoli Council of Imo State where they had been held captive and exploited. The sting operation which saw the four foreigners regain their freedom, was executed by a combined team of NAPTIP and the DSS.
The government should adopt ICT and also sensitize citizens.
To be in tune with global security standards, Nigerian authorities should adopt Information Communication Technology (ICT) to combat human trafficking in the country. Although no technology can be deemed perfect or fail-proof, its adoption and usage will gradually evolve and improve such that it will be relevant and responsive in tackling the existing and emerging challenges associated with this crime and other related ones. Continuous sensitization of citizens and creation of awareness on how to curb this menace is important to combating it.