President of Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr Okey Wali SAN, has condemned the practice of trafficking in human beings, which is seen as modern day slavery.
Speaking at the just concluded International Bar Association, IBA conference in Boston, US, Wali said “This is a very bad and highly condemnable act, it is indeed a terrible issue that requires urgent steps to address.
“It should indeed be a matter of concern to all humanity and governments, we must galvanise our efforts and resources to fight it, I am very proud of Prof. Ezeilo, who was the key presenter at that session and what she is doing in the United Nations.”
Another Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Damian Dodo, on the same issue, said “I am very passionate about the question of human trafficking, which is today in our view a modern day slavery. It is worrisome that people can be trafficked like goods and merchandise in this age and time and certainly, I am a former chairman of the board of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking
In Persons, NAPTIP and it was my mandate to fight against trafficking in persons, so I made it a priority to attend this session, it was indeed a very good session, a very enlightening session, nothing new was said, because as far as the issue of human trafficking is concerned, the world truly knows the various dimensions, what is crucial at this point is the commitment of governments to the efforts, not only to prevent it, but to make sure that it is eradicated.
“All over the world, this is a major challenge and more so for us in Nigeria, the government must be commended for taking the first step to establish an agency with the specific mandate and I know that while I was the chairman of the board, certain suggestions were made to amend the law so as to give more powers to the agency to discharge its mandate.
What is crucial now is the political support from government in terms of funding, funding was a major challenge for us at the agency and my appeal to government is now that this crime, for which Nigeria has become notorious and as national embarrassment, it is time for the government to give greater attention with the active participation of men of good will and corporate organisations that will help in the fight to bring this ugly incident to an end.”
On his part, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, said: “ It is highly important for Nigeria, because the average young Nigerian is totally discontented with our society. I work with young people, because of that they always think that anywhere else but Nigeria is better and so, our citizens, the young ones, the women, the children are highly prone to trafficking, to smuggling, to illegal migrations and they become case studies for a lot of the negative things that we see in these international meetings. For example, you will be shocked to learn that Nigerians get trafficked to places like Mexico, Nicaragua, Colombia, just to come to the United States of America and sometimes unfortunately for them, they end up in those places.
So, the showcase session on human trafficking, apart from the fact that I have done work in this area and I know that because of this discontent, because there is a link between all these things and poverty, our country always feature negatively in the global reports. Our country has been a tier two country, the USA as a country classifies countries into tiers and Nigeria has not been able for a while to move out of the range of high risk countries.
“ This affects us in visa regulation, even though the countries that you interact with will not directly link your position in the human trafficking metrics with the visa regulations, but once they see a large number of citizens from a country who are being illegally and criminally trafficked, of it is an indicator that many more who are not going that way will likely falsify documents, papers and try to emigrate through official channels. So, there is a link which officially may not be discussed but it is always there. The third reason is very important for us as a country, we also need to know how to market the positive values concerning our country.”
Marc Enamhe, on his part said: ”The lessons are multi-dimensional, it is not the way we think about it, it has taken such a dangerous dimension that we are all happy that the IBA has made it a show case session. It transcends all areas, school, the church and like the contributors said: the major problem is poverty, because of poverty, most people are lured into it and the will power by the government to attack this problem frontally, punish the perpetrators as a deterrent to others.
We must not fight this modern slavery with kid gloves.”