5 October 2011

West Africa: Human Trafficking - Senate Seeks ECOWAS, AU Cooperation

Abuja — The Senate yesterday condemned the scourge of human trafficking in Nigeria and urged the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU) to strengthen cooperation among member states in efforts aimed at combating human trafficking.

The upper house also referred the matter to its Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters for further legislative action.

This followed the passage of a motion on the scourge sponsored by Senator Dahiru Kuta (PDP, Niger) and 33 others.

Moving the motion, Kuta lamented that Nigeria's notoriety as a veritable source of the human commodity was such that baby factories were springing up in illegal hospitals and maternity homes where expectant teenagers were harboured with a view to selling off their new born.

"In fact, UNICEF has estimated that at least 10 children are sold daily in Nigeria and will ultimately be subjected to inhuman treatments and other forms of involuntary servitude in Europe and other parts of the world", he said.

He adding that "the mode of operation of the human trafficking cartel entails deception, forgery, bribery, juju and other despicable acts of illegalities in carrying out the recruitment, transportation, smuggling, transfer, incarceration, harbouring or receipt of human beings for the purpose of exploitation."

In his contribution, Senator Datti Ahmed (CPC, Kaduna) recalled that he was once kidnapped when he was a teenager, adding that the art of human trafficking was inspired by ritualists, who according to him, were often christened insane once apprehended.

Also contributing, Senator Uche Chukwumerije (PDP, Abia) called for capital punishment for human traffickers, while Senator Ayogu Eze (PDP, Enugu) canvassed more funds and more legislative powers for the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), to enable them excel in this assignment.

Senator Benedict Ayade (PDP, Cross River) blamed human trafficking on unemployment and called for aggressive job creation to mitigate the menace while Senator Buka Abba Ibrahim (ANPP, Yobe) blamed it on collapse of religious beliefs..

Others who contributed to the debate were Senators Zainab Kure (PDP, Niger), Remi Tinubu (ACN, Lagos), Chris Anyanwu (APGA, Imo), Suleiman Adokwe (PDP, Nasarawa) and Ita Enang (PDP, Akwa Ibom).

Rounding off the debate, Senate President David Mark noted that the fact that there was unemployment in the land was not enough excuse for perpetrating the illicit act and called for concerted efforts to stop it.

He also noted that human trafficking was rampant in the country and expressed regret that laws prohibiting the art appeared not very strong, as accused persons were often described as insane and let off the hook. Mark therefore, urged that laws that could stamp out human trafficking should be put in place

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