Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong has decried the level of human trafficking in the country especially exploitation of persons with disability.
Towards checkmating the trend, the governor said that concerted efforts must be made to ensure that Nigerians are protected irrespective of their status and tribe.
He made the assertion in Abuja during the reunion of a disabled girl, (Name withheld) who is a survivor of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
Represented by the Executive Director, Plateau State Disability Right Commission, Mr. James David Lalu, the governor who commended NAPTIP for its laudable efforts in protecting Nigerians from human traffickers and any form of exploitation identified awareness creation as key to preventing human trafficking and promised to support the Agency in this regard.
The governor promised to provide the necessary platform for NAPTIP to sensitize citizens of the state especially those in the grassroots on the dangers of human trafficking.
Speaking at the occasion, Director-General of NAPTIP, Dame Julie Okah-Donli, stated that every Nigeria has the right to be protected from any form of abuse and exploitation irrespective of their status.
The DG observed that it is painful to imagine that physically challenged persons are victims of human trafficking stressing that the Agency will no more tolerate this development.
She disclosed that in order to efficiently care for the persons with disability, she has concluded plan to create a disability desk bearing in mind numbers of such person that have been rescued by the Agency of recent.
It would be recalled that the said victim was lured out of school and trafficked to Chad, Cameroon and later Gabon where she was eventually rescued.
***CALLS FOR CRIPPLING OF HUMAN TRAFFICKERS ECONOMICALLY/
Recall that recently while playing host to new Ambassador and Head of the European Union Delegation to Nigeria, Mr. Ketil Karslsen in Abuja, the NAPTIP DG called for human traffickers to be crippled economically by destination countries and International Law Enforcement Agencies if the fight against human trafficking is to be won.
Dame Julie Okah-Donli said, “We must cripple traffickers economically by tracing and freezing their accounts for the benefit of victims of human trafficking. We must take their money and render them impotent”.
Stressing the need for destination countries to work closely with the Nigerian Embassies in the areas of victims’ identification; language barriers and assistance to victims, the DG urged the European Union and her members to consciously deal with issues of pornographic sites, massage parlours and farms scattered all over Europe.
She said these places and others are areas where victims of human trafficking from Nigeria and Africa are daily exploited.
She queried, “What are the destination countries doing about the pornographic sites, massage parlours, and escort services?
“You have the factories, farms, restaurants and you can see them and the exploitations that go on in such places.
“Do more investigations in the destination countries and clamp down on those businesses. Look into yours as we are looking into ours’’, she stated.
Emphasizing the need for equal attention to be focused on the trafficking and exploitation of boys and men by traffickers, she said “The boys and men are even more brutalized and nobody is doing anything about it.
“These are the people who when they survive and are deported back home, they become potential armed robbers, hired assassins and engage in other crimes.
“We need to empower them and help them rather than focus only on the plights of the girls and children”.
Dame Okah-Donli also harped on the need for stakeholders across the world to address the issues of human trafficking from both source and destination countries noting, “We must begin to address the menace from the situations in both source and destination countries.
“We must address those things that make prostitution attractive in the destination countries.
“We must take a look at the legalization of prostitution in some destination countries in Europe and the effect of such legislation on the global efforts to fight human trafficking.
“On our part, we have launched out to the endemic communities across the country as part of our massive awareness creation programme to stem the tide of human trafficking and irregular migration.
“We are not only targeting women and girls; we are also taking men and boys into consideration because they are equally victims of labour exploitation, organ harvesting and even sexual exploitation”.
In his remarks, the European Union Ambassador to Nigeria said that the current increase in human trafficking and irregular migration is an issue of shared common responsibility that must be addressed by all stakeholders in order to arrive at reasonable results.
He stated further that the European nations are deeply committed to the eradication of all forms of trafficking and irregular migration due to its attendant consequences which is always grievous in most cases.
The Ambassador pointed out that human trafficking and irregular migration are phenomenon of huge priority to the European Union which must be addressed from the demand sides.
He assured NAPTIP of increased support of the European Union towards eradication of human trafficking and irregular migration in Nigeria and called for a change in the method of fighting the menace describing human traffickers as criminal opportunists.
For: Head, Press and Public Relations Unit.