ALTHOUGH some religious cultures and state systems rooted in religion are still generally tolerant of practices that verge on slavery, the recent exposé by the CNN of thriving slave markets in Libya confirmed, to the shock of the civilised peoples of the world, the existence of this long abolished abominable practice.
It is no longer news that thousands of Nigerians and other Black Africans are being held in camps in anarchy-ruled, post-Muammar Gaddafi Libya, where they are sold for as little as $400 (about N150,000). These youthful, misguided Africans fall into the nets of human traffickers in their quest to escape into Europe for “better life”. Most of them end up dying in the Sahara Desert or drowning in the Mediterranean Sea. Some fall victim to human organ hunters or get sold as slaves. Libya became a thriving theatre of barbarity and human suffering after Gaddafi’s fall plunged it into a state of anarchy.
Human trafficking has acquired a crisis proportion. It should no longer be left for the National Agency for the Prevention of Traffic in Persons, NAPTIP, alone to tackle. We advocate strongly for President Muhammadu Buhari to rally the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS and the African Union, AU, to link up with the European Union, EU, to annihilate human trafficking and slavery.
The ball is in the court of Nigeria, not just because of her leading position in the sub-region and Africa as a whole, but more importantly, because our citizens constitute the largest population of the victims of the trans-Saharan human misery.
The recently-held joint meeting of the AU and the EU in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire, admittedly included in its five-point agenda, “governance, including democracy, human rights, migration and mobility,” which expectedly examined ways of containing the African migration crisis. We, however, call for a special international summit where the issue of slavery will be frontally addressed.
It must be borne in mind that all the international instruments that prohibit the practice of slave trade and slavery are still very much valid and subscribed to by all nations. The world cannot afford to allow some stateless international outlaws to plunge Africa back to the dark days of hawking humans like commodities.
We agree with the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, that President Buhari should take the lead for a joint AU-EU commission of inquiry to investigate the return of slave trade and slavery on the African continent, stamp it out and bring all its perpetrators to justice.
It must also be clear to all that there is no alternative to good governance, as that is the only way to keep Africans safely and usefully occupied within their countries.