By Amos Igbebe
The Benin Zonal Commander of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Mrs. Cordelia Oluchi Ebiringa, has said that the agency, since inception in 2004, had prosecuted and jailed over 50 persons convicted of involvement in child trafficking in Edo and Delta States.
Ebiringa, who was speaking during the opening ceremony of a two day workshop organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with Delta State Government for state working groups on anti-human trafficking in Warri, said the establishment of the agency had helped to reduce the incidence of child trafficking as it was a great menace in the country prior to 2004.
She said NAPTIP, through its various units and departments, had fought trafficking in persons, rescued victims, rehabilitated, educated and re-united them with their families, maintaining that child trafficking had been a social challenge, but blamed society for its growth.
Mrs. Ebiringa, who described child trafficking as modern day slavery, said victims, who most times get shattered and traumatised after recovery, get trafficked due to lack of jobs and deception of persons who were bent on bursting into quick wealth without recourse to hard work and readiness to follow due process in making breakthroughs in life.
According to her, parents, especially, career mothers who are busy working and traveling, without sufficient time to take care of their children, expose them to trafficking through make believe films and the conviction of better life outside the shores of Nigeria.
She said the agency, in a bid to combat the wave of child trafficking, had partnered with public and private institutions, religious and faith based institutions, community leaders with the intention of stemming the wave, educate Nigerians and assist in rescuing trafficked children.
She said the workshop which gathered stakeholders from various walks of life in Delta, including government agencies, NGOs and staff of the State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, was aimed at equipping and educating Nigerians in the war against child trafficking in the country.
Focal Person of the UNDP in the state which sponsored the workshop, Mrs. Patience Ogbewe, maintained that the experience of trafficked children affects the psychology and the social wellbeing of the victim, just as she insisted that poor education, lack of access to social amenities of life and access to good source of income, expose children to trafficking.
Ogbewe, who said though total eradication of child trafficking might be a Herculean task, called on government, good spirited individuals and faith based groups to join hands in the fight against child trafficking so as to reduce the menace to the barest minimum.
Also, Delta State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs. Omatsola Williams, decried the increasing rate of child trafficking in the country, maintaining that poor access to social amenities and the economic hardship in the nation were direct cause of child trafficking in Nigeria.
Omatsola, who was represented by her Special Assistant, Mr. Henry Babine, advocated for efforts at strengthening state institutions in the fight against child trafficking, said the establishment of state working committees in the war was crucial as it would help in creating awareness on the ills of child trafficking and aid the rehabilitation and counseling of victims.
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