The National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and Related Matters (NAPTIP) has said that the criminalisation of commercial sex can end human trafficking in the country.
NAPTIP’s Director of Media and Communication, Arinze Orakwue, said this in an interview, against the backdrop of the annual Slavery Remembrance Day.
The annual Slavery Remembrance Day is held on August 23 of each year to commemorate an uprising by enslaved Africans on the island of Saint Domingue (in modern Haiti) in 1791.
The date has been designated by UNESCO as Slavery Remembrance Day, a reminder that enslaved Africans were the main agents of their own liberation.
Mr. Orakwue said that human trafficking was a form of modern slavery and called on Nigerians to join hands to help fight it.
“It is a shame that 100 years after slavery was abolished the crime has sneaked back on us in other variances including but not limited to trafficking in persons.
“Nigeria is a transit, a source and a destination country. Unfortunately, that is the tag we have to live with presently because of this particular scourge. It is a clear and present danger and it requires the intervention of all sectors of not just governmental but also the private sector and families.
“What we are asking is that the least we can do is to criminalise the purchase of sex because prostitution is a function of demand, if nobody is buying definitely nobody will sell.
“Anything that does not target the criminalisation of the purchase of sex so long as sex can be purchased people will always be trafficked because there is no end to the boom in the industry.
“Now the internet had become another platform where paedophiles traffic children, all manner of fancies of people can be met so long as you create the avenue for people to express it.
“I think there is the need for us to begin to look at some of the excesses of some of our freedoms that people are enjoying and see how those things have brought other forms of abuses that are inflicted on poor and unsuspecting persons particularly from less developed countries and that is the common challenge the world will face in no time,” he said.
Mr. Orakwue advised parents to invest more in their children and also urged the Federal Government to provide free, accessible education in the country.
“(My) advice for Nigerians is that the grass seems to be greener on the other side and that parents must understand that the fortunes of your child will not be better managed if that child goes out to a country he doesn’t know and many countries in the Europe are under severe economic problems.
“What you watch on films is not what you see. They are going through tortuous economic times and prostitution can never be seen as the way out.
“The main effort and energy we expend trying to put that child across if you put it here that child will find something to do. So long as the government does its own to make sure that education is compulsory, free and accessible to every child,” he said.
He said the agency was planning to review the law guiding its operations so that it could have the appropriate legal backing to fully tackle the issue of trafficking in Nigeria.
“The regulations have not changed but what we are waiting for is the amendment of the law that is being proposed which is to make trafficking more stringent by removing the option of fine and designing it in line with global standards,’’ he said.