IN May 1807, Britain abolished the slave trade. A few months later on January 1, 1808, the US followed suit. Thus, slave trade, man’s greatest inhumanity to man perpetrated mainly against Blacks and Africans, became an international taboo, though it continued (albeit illegally) in some parts of the world where religion and culture accommodated it.
The abolition enabled victim communities to get educated and struggle for independence from colonialism which Nigerians celebrate on October 1 every year.
Under the Constitution, Nigerians are not only free but imbued with universal human rights (which enable us to aspire to the very best that life has to offer) and aspire to build a country that is second to none in the world.
It is monumentally shocking to learn that Nigerians are still being sold as “slaves”!
It is horrendous enough that Nigerians who try to illegally enter Europe through the Sahara and the Mediterranean Sea often end up in Arab slave camps.
The story that 20 Nigerians from Katsina State were traced to a slave market in Burkina Faso is downright stupefying.
As we celebrated 59 years of independence, some Nigerians were languishing as commodities in slave markets!
We now know that slave trade has been going on quietly in some areas in North West Nigeria, Northern Benin Republic, Chad, Niger and Burkina Faso.
It is no wonder that Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, often threatened to “sell” the Chibok girls and other captives in his custody.
The question comes back to the table: What exactly are our security agencies doing?
Apart from the Police, the Armed Forces and the intelligence agencies, we have the National Agency Against the Prohibition and Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, and many NGOs and foundations.
Apart from the NGOs, they are all armed with the taxpayers’ money to protect the people, guarantee their freedom and secure Nigeria’s territorial integrity.
Can we now see the self-inflicted danger of leaving our borders porous for all sorts of criminal vermin from the Sahara to come into Nigeria and go just as they like?
The enslavement of Nigerians is a lowering of human dignity which we reject in totality.
President Buhari must protect all Nigerians from slavery! Nigeria carried out military expeditions in the past in the sub-region for far lesser infractions.
The Federal Government should immediately meet with its Burkinabe counterpart, close the slave markets and mete out maximum penalties to slave traders and their collaborators.