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Africa loses 3.4 million Citizens to Trafficking, Forced Labour-Chioma Ajunwa

Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of Human Trafficking, Ms Chioma Ajunwa on Friday gave a shocking statistics of 3.4 million Africans that have been trafficked across the world for forced Labour.

Ajunwa, a retired Nigerian sprinter made the disclosure on Friday at the official unveiling of the logo of Kick Against Human Trafficking and Human Rights Abuses Foundation (KAHTHRAF).

Earlier, Mr Dan Okoro, the Commissioner of Police, Anti-Fraud Unit, urged parents to be mindful of the friends their children keep as they could lure them into illegal activities.

He said that human trafficking is a contemporary social menace that occurs, not only in Nigeria but all over the world. According to the police chief, the youth are targets of human traffickers because they are vulnerable and can easily fall prey of the traffickers’ strategies.

“It is not only prostitution that is trending these days, but also the harvesting of different human organs. Greed begets human trafficking and it cuts across both young men and women; therefore, do not allow anyone take advantage of you because of greed,’’ Okoro warned.

He counselled that education should be paramount and everyone should be educated, have a skilled job or have something meaningful doing.
The police commissioner said there was the need for youths and their parents to be careful of friends that lured them into illegal activities with vain promises. Okoro urged users of social media to be cautious of information passed on it.

He said further: “Most of the news and information on social media are false and the youth are the targeted audience because they are vulnerable,’’

He advised that users of social media screen information and people on them because some of them had been compromised for ulterior motives.

On the role of the Nigerian Police in combating human trafficking, Ajunwa, revealed that human trafficking was a global phenomenon. She said that it was clandestine in nature and a consequence of irregular immigration of human beings from one geographical area to the other for various reasons.

“It is one of the gravest violations of human rights in the world today; children, women and their families are enslaved by empty promises of the trafficking networks. Every year, hundreds of thousands are being trafficked across the borders’’, she said.

Ajunwa said that to combat the menace, the police was an integral constituent and major operator in the criminal justice system of every country. She noted that the presence of police personnel at borders, parks, airports and some other vulnerable points to detect, identify and rescue human trafficking victims from the traffickers would go a long way in the fight against the menace.

“Also, due diligence prosecution of the traffickers to logical conclusion will go a long way to serve as a deterrent to others who are bent on engaging in such crimes.”

The assistant commissioner of police disclosed that in 2016, global statistics showed that there were about 25 million labour trafficking victims in the world, adding: “3.8 million of which were forced into the sex trade. “In Africa, 3.4 million people had been trafficked into forced labour,’’ she said.
Ajunwa called for the integration of anti-human trafficking training into all curricula at law enforcement academics and taught to all personnel.

The special investigative units have an important part to play, first responders and general investigators must also know how to spot and respond to human trafficking. The fight against human trafficking with its attendant consequences is a global phenomenon; inter-agency and international cooperation is paramount in the prosecution of the war against this scourge plaguing the entire universe.’’

The assistant commissioner advised everybody to be up and doing in combating trafficking effectively. “We should all be involved in the fight against human trafficking, it is everybody’s business. Also, parents should stop the habit of giving out their children to friends and family to travel abroad for greener pastures. It is always a lie, they are being trafficked for different purposes,’’ Ajunwa said.

A lawyer, Mr Ojay Akinwale, founder, KAHTHRAF, said it was founded in February 2016 to respond to, promote and protect children, young women’s and men’s human rights. Akinwale said that the foundation had a particular focus on human trafficking, women/girls sexual and reproductive health rights. According to him, the foundation is an agent of change.

“We were the ones that leaked the human trafficking activities in Tripoli and Libya to the U.S. Embassy and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP). Our journey in eradicating human trafficking led us in unraveling the whereabouts of one Hafsat Abolanle and Basirat Limidi in 2016, who were promised greener pastures in the U.S..

“Unknown to them, they were being trafficked by a cartel of human traffickers. Our findings later revealed that over 250 young Nigerian women were trafficked by this cartel to Tripoli, Libya for forced commercial sex labour;

“With the cooperation of NAPTIP, our effort led to the release of over 250 young Nigerian women trafficked to Libya, while some of the traffickers were arrested, tried and eventually convicted,’’ the KAHTHRAF founder said.

He thanked the Nigeria Police and NAPTIP for partnering with them to tackle the menace of human trafficking. Akinwale disclosed that so far, 15 survivors had been economically empowered and equipped with skills such as farming, barbing, fashion designing and hair dressing.

“We also united some of the survivors with their families, rehabilitated them and made sure they were properly re-integrated into the society,’’ Akinwale added.

While unveiling the logo of KAHTHRAF, On-Air- Personality, Ifedayo Olarinde, alias “Daddy Freeze”, urged the police and immigration service to be effective in their responsibilities of protecting Nigerian citizens.

“Why would anyone want to leave Nigeria if there are good schools, hospitals and proper places to work?
“If all these and other basic amenities are in place, Nigeria will be a better place,’’ Olarinde said.

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