Executive Secretary of National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and Other Related Matters (NAPTIP), Mrs. Carol Ndaguba, has said that Nigeria is a transit and recipient country for trafficking in persons, a phenomenon reminiscent of the 18th century slave trade.
Ndaguba, who was in Cross River State to introduce the Agency as well as seek the state's collaboration in combating the menace of human trafficking in Nigeria, stated that "available indices and records at local and international levels confirm the status of Nigeria as a source, transit and recipient country for trafficking in persons, a phenomenon reminiscent of the 18th century slave trade".
She described human trafficking as the highest form of human degradation, deprivation and violation of human rights and works against the cardinal provision of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which provides for security and well being of its citizens. She added that 67 persons from Cross River State were rescued by the Nigeria Police in Ebonyi State while on transit to Ogun State to be distributed in cocoa plantations.
The executive secretary said, "rehabilitation is one of the organisation's cardinal mandates, and solicited the assistance of Swiss government to rehabilitate 27 of the victims, who are still minors, to serve as a pilot project to show that there was an alternative to trafficking, adding that it was a 12-month project which is starting with the advocacy visit to Imoke to sensitise him on the phenomenon and also seek collaboration.
According to her, various researches indicated that the root cause of the phenomenon of trafficking were poverty, ignorance, civil strife, and greed, but one of the causes they had identified in Cross River was the incidence of child rejection, adding that the practice which was a violation of the right of the child must be shunned by all, while appreciating the Swiss government for funding the project.
The Swiss Charge D' Affairs to Nigeria, Mr. Fabio Baidardi, said the collaboration was an agreement between Nigeria and Switzerland to curb the incidence of human trafficking, and believed its success would be of great benefits to the two countries. Baidardi described the collaboration as first of its kind, which he was proud of and confident of its future as it cuts across the society right from the grassroots to the national level, as the integration project was not only for the victims, but their families and communities.
Governor Imoke while receiving them said that poverty was the root cause of traffic in persons which the state intends to eliminate. He stressed that government's focus on rural development with emphasis on provision of infrastructure is geared towards reducing the incidence of child trafficking and other related vices.
Imoke explained that though the problem of child trafficking had been on the increase over the last 12 months in some parts of the state, government intended to initiate sustainable programmes in the rural areas which when operational, will reduce the menace, saying that its focus was beyond the ministry of women affairs but with the cooperation of ministry of sports, youth development and orientation and the provision of schools and skill acquisition institutions to create vocation.