By Edikan Ekanem
Joseph was hated by his brothers for no just reason. He was envied to the extent that a plan to dispense of his presence by killing him was concluded among his brothers and the strategy to achieve this mischievous plan was set up.
When the golden opportunity arose for them to execute their bad wishes against Joseph, one of the conspirators brought up the idea of selling him out than killing him which they imbibed and did just so. Joseph was sold for 20 pieces of silver to Ishmaelite merchants who later took Joseph into Egypt to slave for his new master. Do we think Almighty God was pleased? Certainly not.
What befell Joseph above is an excellent illustration of human trafficking. Most times but not always, two parties are involved in human trafficking: the trafficker and the victim who is always transferred from one hand to the other. In some cases, third party who always mediates between the parties does exist.
It should however be borne in mind that it is not in all cases of trafficking that money is used as consideration, false promise like good job offer may also serve as consideration. Abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or position of vulnerability can also serve as the nucleus of trafficking. Deductively, it is permissible to say that trafficking can even be consensual.
As a prologue to the written advocacy against traffic in persons, this work will expound on the generic description of human trafficking, the activities that constitute same, and succinctly elucidate on its ills as its thrust.
For clarity, the English Online Dictionary defines “Trafficking” as the exploitative movement of people across borders. As a condition precedent, for there to be human trafficking, there must be “movement” of the victim with a negative intention from one place to another.
According to Wikipedia, “human trafficking is the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labour, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others. This may encompass providing a spouse in the context of forced marriage, or the extraction of organs or tissues, including for surrogacy and ova removal”.
Legally speaking, section 13 of Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition, Enforcement and Administration) Act 2015 generally frowns at the traffic of persons and criminalises it along with other acts of aiding or procuring. Section 13 (2) of the aforementioned Act describe acts that amount to trafficking in the eyes of the law. It states as follows:
Any person who recruits, transports, transfer, harbours, or receives another person by means of-
(a) Threat or use of force or other form of coercion;
(b) Abduction, fraud deception, abuse of power or position of vulnerability; or
(c) giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation of the person, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than two years and a fine of not less than N250,000.00.
From the above, trafficking is an offence which is punishable by law in the Nigerian legal system. This offence robs the victim of his dignity, integrity and respect. Frustrations, disappointments and traumata cannot be separated from the victims and even the family members at large, it is hazardous and disheartening.
It is immaterial that the victim consented to such exploitative movement if the consent was obtained by force, coercion or by fraud. It is also porous canvassing that the consent was freely obtained when such movement itself is predicated on fraud and deception, it still amounts to traffic in person and the ambient of this law will be used against the perpetrator.
From all ramifications, human trafficking is an offence in law and a sin against humanity. It is legally wrong and morally bad. It is clear breach of natural rights that were given to us by our creator and such practices should be abhorred and should not in any way be accommodated or concealed covertly in the human society.
More so, traffic in persons is a clear violation of Fundamental Rights under Section 34, 35 and 41 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal of Nigeria as amended, which provide for the right to dignity of human person, personal liberty, freedom of movement, which victims can seek redress, claiming damages accordingly in court competent jurisdiction for such breaches notwithstanding the fact that the state will prosecute the perpetrators for the alleged offence.
Under this catastrophic economy, Nigerians are groping for greener pastures within and outside the country, unfortunately luring many into this trap of trafficking. Many of our ladies are subjected to sexual exploitations and inhumane treatments by traffickers. One need to be careful not to fall into this deadly snare.
Dear parents, be careful on whom you give your child to live with. Inquire on the needed assistance that your child will render to your extended relative before letting go to reside with him. Do not relax at home believing that all is well, pay reasonable visits to know the living condition of your child which will help you discern whether or not he is abused.
Fellow Nigerians, if you see something, say something. Keep on the watch at all time, do not conceal this evil; raise alarm to save a victim today. Injury to one is injury to all. With our collective efforts, this menace can be curbed if an attempt to exterminate is unrealised.
May this article serve as a wakeup call to all, as a guide on knowing who to follow and where to follow to, which job offer to accept and which to turn down, when to raise alarm for help and the how to go about doing same.
“The shrewd one sees the danger and conceals him, but the inexperienced keep right on going and suffer the consequences”- Proverbs 22:8
While we hope to propagate and publish a work on practical ways of tackling and combating this menace, the institutional and legal framework, the legal procedures to follow in fighting traffic in persons , may we be vigilant not to fall into this trap and always be ready to help in saving victims out of this predicament.
Join Devatop Centre for Africa Development and National Agency for Prohibitions of traffic in persons (NAPTIP) in saying “no to human trafficking”, injury to one is injury to all.
Edikan Ekanem is a columnist on contemporary issues and a voice4victims of human trafficking. He can be reached at email@example.com.