By Vera Sam Anyagafu
The British government has said it will support the Nigerian government in prosecuting human traffickers and those who indulge in illegal migration across the country and beyond.
The British Deputy High Commissioner, Lagos, Ms. Laure Beaufils, made this known during a comprehensive presentation on UK’s government’s readiness to support Nigeria in the fight against irregular migration.
According to her, “Our law enforcement agencies have a longstanding and very fruitful relationship with their Nigerian partners; the National Crime Agency and Immigration Enforcement International have been working with The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, over a number of years to prosecute those that perpetuate trafficking of people. And we are exploring ways to increase this support to Nigeria”
She stressed that the issue of Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking was not for government agencies to tackle alone, but should be seen as a responsibility by business and individuals. She reiterated the personal commitment of the Prime Minister to do more to tackle the issue.
Remarking on the strong resistance he had encountered, the Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki revealed that he had been warned that there would be negative political implications for speaking too strongly against human trafficking. He promised that despite that, he would continue working to eradicate the scourge.
“One cannot eradicate migration completely; it is irregular migration, and the socio-economic circumstances that compel young people into it that we need to do more to address.” Obaseki added.
On her part, the Director General of NAPTIP thanked the UK government for their work with Nigeria and NAPTIP in particular to combat human trafficking.
She said: “My heart was particularly gladdened when the UK secretary of State for International Development, Priti Patel; in the course of her visit to Nigeria in 2017, stated that the UK planned to increase its financial support to provide alternative livelihood for potential victims, including support for reintegration of survivors”
Ms Ifueko Aideyan, representing the Oba of Benin commented on the use of juju to psychologically imprison victims.
She stated that ever since the Oba of Benin placed a curse on all traditional priests who performed these rites, there has been an appreciable increase in the number of girls who are now willing to return and work with the authorities to prevent the same fate falling to other girls.
Dr. May Ikeora, speaking about her book “UK-Nigeria Cooperation against Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking” disclosed that she had never intended to write the book, but it had been inspired by the gaps she experienced in her work on human trafficking cases between Nigeria and the UK