By Simon Ebegbulem
THE Benin Monarch, Oba Ewuare 11, yesterday placed a curse on perpetrators of human trafficking in Edo state as well as native doctors who administer oath of secrecy on victims, asserting that the gods of Benin Kingdom would destroy those involved in the illicit trade.
Meantime, Governor Godwin Obaseki, has urged members of the Edo State House of Assembly to expedite work on the bill to prohibit trafficking in persons and establish the Edo State Task Force against Trafficking in Persons.
The Monarch who assembled all his chiefs, Enogie, Edionwere, priests of different deities in Benin and native doctors at his palace, with a view to unleash different curses on the perpetrators, regretted that the oath of secrecy administered on the victims had been encouraging the illegal trade and warned all native doctors to shun the act and join hands with the palace to attract development and progress to the kingdom and not encouraging human trafficking.
Addressing the native doctors and his chiefs, the monarch said, “it has been reported that the traffickers would first take their victims to native doctors to swear on oath that they would not disclose the names of their traffickers and sponsors. Your power is to fight for the progress of Benin kingdom and not to be used for the destruction of our young people.”
The monarch who also invoked his power as the spiritual leader of Benin kingdom nullified all the oaths of secrecy administered on all victims of human trafficking and urged them to speak out and seek assistance.
¨From the statistics available, most of those being trafficked and the sponsors are from Edo state, and it is shameful that people who already have jobs would sell all they have and give to sponsors just to go to Europe. We have some people gainfully employed as mechanics, welders, tailors, selling their working tools to pay traffickers to take them to Italy of Germany.
“Those who traffic people to Italy, Germany and other countries first take them to Libya where they are enslaved. I urge you all to tell those who took the oath of secrecy to speak up, we will protect them. We need to start arresting those involved because this is a crime against God and humanity. It is modern day slavery. From today, we no longer want to hear of human trafficking in Benin. ¨I hope those who have been involved in this illegal trade will stop from today. All native doctors who have administered oath of secrecy on victims of human trafficking should also tell those they administered such oath on to speak out. I am appealing to all native doctors to stop administering such oaths on trafficked victims and all such oaths are hereby nullified.
“No native doctor should do any charm for any potential illegal migrant to cross international border. Those who did it before now are forgiven and whoever does it from today will face the wrath of our ancestors”, the monarch warned.
Saturday Vanguard observed that, the palace chief priests representing different deities had earlier prepared the relevant rituals used to fight such evil acts in the society. The chiefs were all dressed in red attire with each of them executing their duties as custom provided.
Saturday Vanguard was informed that the sacrifices made were specially targeted at human traffickers and cultists who were in the habit of killing in the society. Oba Ewuare 11 was present as all the chiefs priests in the kingdom performed their greetings before carrying out their duties.
The event was attended by all the different groups in the palace of the Oba which was a clear indication that the matter was a serious one. It was learnt that sacrifices were made in different shrines in the Kingdom prior to the palace event with a view to ensure that any one involved in human trafficking in any part of the state would be caught like a chicken, a top Benin Chief told Saturday Vanguard.
Meanwhile, the Zonal Commander, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, Mr Nduka Nwanwennee described the Oba’s intervention as a significant milestone in the war against human trafficking and illegal migration.
According to him, “before now, victims of human trafficking rarely opened up to give evidence in court because of the oath they have taken. They are afraid and believe that the oath will have effect on them as the native doctors who administered such oaths have their personal items like fingernails, pubic hair, menstrual pads, pants, photographs etc.
“Now that those oaths have been nullified by the monarch, our power of prosecution has been enhanced and we can now rescue more victims,” he said.
Obaseki on his part, said “The state government has adopted a multi-pronged approach which includes a law, aggressive campaigns at markets and across the broad spectrum of the media, stakeholder engagements, partnerships with the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and international governments and bodies, in tackling the menace.”