The National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and other Related Matters (NAPTIP) on Wednesday called for collaboration of stakeholders to fight human trafficking.
Mr Josiah Emerole, the Chief Intelligence Officer of the agency, made the call in Lagos at the 3rd International Law Conference on Women and Children, organised by the Foundation for African Cultural Heritage.
The conference had the theme: "Women and Children as New Tools of Trade in the 21st Century: Exploring Policy, Research, Community and Legal Frameworks for Addressing Human Trafficking".
Emerole described human trafficking as "a major offence" that needed wider collaborative efforts to deal with.
He said that 80 per cent of prostitutes in Italy were from Nigeria, adding that about 750, 000 children were being trafficked yearly. According to him, this trend is high in all the states of the federation, but very endemic in 22 states.
Emerole said that the trend had become worrisome and needed urgent attention and collaborative approach. "The responsibility of tackling this menace, which is gradually eroding our communities, is a collective one.
"NAPTIP is doing everything possible, but everybody must be involved in fighting the scourge of trafficking and safeguarding the future of the nation," he said.
Miss Ifeyinwa Mbakogu, Founder, Nothing Greater Than a Child Initiative - an NGO - said that poverty, illiteracy, ignorance, unemployment and the gradual erosion of cultural and ethical values were the major causes of human trafficking and child labour.
Mbakogu said that a UNICEF report estimated that 15 million child workers existed in Nigeria. According to her, many are domestic workers living with employers; they have no familiar relationships and are employed through the middlemen.
"These children are taking away from family support and unable to access education; these children have limited protection from traffickers looking to exploit them.
"There have been significant attempts to tackle this issue. Nigeria has its own dedicated agency - NAPTIP.
"Many dedicated NGOs with support from high-profile individuals and international agencies have also engaged in addressing this issue. "There is the need to have multitude of anti-trafficking awareness campaigns to warn migrants at the grassroots of the dangers of trafficking," she said. (NAN)