All the stakeholders should come up with a solution to this monstrosity
The latest and most heinous dimension to human trafficking in Nigeria is that it has gone beyond sexual exploitation. The traffickers now invest in the harvesting of human organs which has become a very lucrative enterprise. With so many people wanting to go for kidney, liver and heart transplants, records reveal that these organs are in high demand, especially in developed countries. To put it frankly, this is an affront against humanity and on our psyche and pride as a people. There is therefore a need for collaborative efforts by the relevant local agencies, state government and the international partners if we are to successfully tackle this barbarity.
Last week, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) Director-General, Dame Julie Okah-Donli raised the alarm on the increase in organ harvesting in the country. "People are just getting away with murder... Last week, a 10-month-old baby was rescued, they had taken out one of his eyeballs and they were about to take out the second when the two guys were caught," said Okah-Donli who painted a pathetic picture of the growing challenge.
With increasing poverty in the country, many Nigerians are being lured by traffickers into either slavery abroad or their death at home. There were stories of how some Nigerian women are administered drugs that cause ovarian hyper stimulation in order to extract their eggs afterwards. There were also reported instances where female undergraduates of some Nigerian universities sell their eggs to willing buyers. The ever growing need to feed the IVF "factories" with embryos has engendered the exploitation of young women for their eggs.
A recent report by an organ of the United Nations rated Nigeria poorly in tackling human trafficking which is now multi-dimensional. Since the trade in human organs and trafficking in human eggs and embryos are multibillion dollar businesses, it is no surprise that some of the Nigerian traffickers are now drawn into it. And given the level of economic deprivation, it is also no surprise that there are many willing customers.
Indeed, some unscrupulous Nigerians are now recruiting from the villages young boys and girls with the promise of securing them good jobs when the real intention is to harvest their organs for sale. While we therefore condemn human trafficking, we are of the strong belief that a demonstration of political will to diligently prosecute offenders would serve as deterrent to those engaged in the nefarious trade.
The sheer magnitude and sophistication of this human merchandising indicate that for any meaningful breakthrough to be achieved in the efforts to arrest it, collaborative attempts must be made by governments, non-governmental organisations, corporate bodies and even influential individuals. Critical stakeholders can no longer continue to watch from the sidelines while unscrupulous people classify fellow human beings as commodities and benefit from their ignorance, desperation and, sometimes, greed.
All said, trafficking in human person and organs in Nigeria cannot be combated without the effective reform of the country's criminal justice system. That explains why it is urgent and important for the NAPTIP to partner with other organisations in tackling this threat. NAPTIP officials have always cited corruption and slow judicial process as the main obstacles in bringing human trafficking offenders to justice. But beyond mere lamentation, all the critical stakeholders must pull resources together to effectively tackle the human trafficking scourge and its allied crime of organ trafficking.