AN ANALYSIS OF THE CONCEPT OF VICTIMS OF CRIMES IN NIGERIA
It is not exaggeration that despite the effort of NAPTIP and other bodies like the ILO, there are still cases and reports of women and child trafficking in Nigeria. There are occasions where hospitals take in young pregnant girls, offer them money for their babies ranging from N20,000-N25,000, which they in turn sell between N150,000-N30,000 depending on the gender of the baby. Regrettably, many Nigerian children in particular and Africa in general are prone to the whims and caprices of human traffickers at a very astronomical rate. Some of the problems of trafficking in persons are; the past and present military and political leaders lack political will of the states to deal with the current issues despite large budgetary amount that was earmarked to deal with the issue of all sorts of criminal activities, parents and relations of trafficked persons are never interested in helping law enforcement officials to discourage their children or alert the officers responsible for the prohibition of trafficking in persons, The absence of reliable records in the offices of NAPTIP, various ministry of justice and some police departments on crimes and victimization has hindered the understanding of crime pattern and trend of human trafficking, the lack of enforcement mechanisms in to search arrest and prosecutions of the suspects of trafficking and deal with them in accordance with provisions of the law is another problem. Some of the objectives are; to examine the laws on trafficking, to examine the application of the law on the offence of trafficking, also to establish findings on the application of those laws on the offence of trafficking and to provide recommendations. The findings are; the judiciary and administrative mechanisms for the prevention of human trafficking is ineffective, illiteracy contribute a lot to backwardness of combating human trafficking, Nigerian anti-trafficking law in itself does not provide a serious punishment that is commensurate with the gravity of the offences, it has been observed that there has been a problem of lack of coordination between international agencies and the Nigerian domestic agencies, i.e. NAPTIP and other law enforcement agencies that are meant for protection of trafficking. The recommendations are; Judicial and administrative mechanisms should be strengthened where necessary to enable victims to obtain prompt and adequate redress through formal and informal procedures that are expeditious, fair, inexpensive and accessible, Need to educate the public about the rights and duties of suspects, offenders, victims and the state as stakeholders in the criminal justice system, Need to further re-examine our criminal justice administration with a view to addressing the problems created by our inheritance of a colonial system which extols the theory of law and state to the point that recognizes only the state and the offender as the “parties” to criminal proceedings, and to the attendant neglect of the rights and welfare of the victim.
1.1 Background to the Study
It is not exaggeration that despite the effort of National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and other bodies like the International Labour Organization (ILO)1, there are still cases and reports of women and child trafficking in Nigeria. There are occasions where hospitals take in young pregnant girls, offer them money for their babies ranging from N20,000-N25,000, which they in turn sell between N150,000-N30,000 depending on the gender of the baby. Regrettably, many Nigerian children in particular and Africa in general are prone to the whims and caprices of human traffickers at a very astronomical rate. This however, truncates their chances of being exposed to proper and standard education and/or training that is expected to transform them into becoming part of the available human capital resource in Nigeria and the entire Africa. If human capital development centres on the education and training of human being within a society and human trafficking involves the movement of human beings illegally from one location to another for the purposes of exploitation and money making, then trafficking in persons should be considered as a serious impediment to the development of human capital of any nation. As a matter of regret, it is unfortunate to disclose that the women and children who are trafficked from Nigeria to other nations for the development of such destination countries would have been the same people who ought to have been developed and used in Nigerian nation. Train up a child well, and he or she would become a functional future adult member of society, bound with the responsibility of developing the nation.
The act of women and child trafficking in Nigeria and West Africa in general has become a common phenomenon, which involves young boys and girls on the average age of 15 years, which are mainly girls.60%- 80% of them are sent to Italy for sex trade and the common routes are west coast of Nigeria to Mali, morocco, boat to Spain or west coast of Nigeria to Libya and Saudi Arabia. It has been estimated that about 15 million children are engaged in child labour in Nigeria and 40% of them are of the risk of being used for entertainment, pornography, armed conflict, rituals and forced labour. Adenekan further revealed that traffickers lure children to leave their homes promising them education and training abroad, though due to poverty some go willingly. Sometimes officials at borders and traffickers conspire to smuggle women and children out for selfish interest.
Ignorance and poverty are central reason why some parents allow their children to be taken away from them for menial works. Parents with large families too willingly give out their wards to strangers for money to enable them cater for the rest of the family. Traffickers prey on the vulnerability of such poor parents who are mostly illiterates to exploit them, since they are desperate for financial succor and therefore give out their children to strangers who give them money with promise to give the children quality education. Ironically the children are maltreated, physically and psychologically abused. Those that are taken as domestic servants stand the risks of being sexually exploited which invariably, exposed them to deadly diseases like HIV/AIDS. Unfortunately, some of them are used for ritual. Majority of the people trafficked, ranging from children to girls, young women and men are usually engaged in forced labour9. Such assignments include: domestic services, agricultural activities, prostitution and extraction of some parts of their body such as kidney and at the extreme, using them for rituals. The implication of this is that the human capital strength of the country is jeopardized as the resources in human persons are being wasted sometimes very prematurely. It is germane to note that even at the local and international fronts; victims of human trafficking are mostly subjected to carrying out odd job10. These include assignments like; nannies, house helps and some other domestic works as well as street trade (hawking) which would never allow them to develop any reasonable low manpower skills, let alone middle or high level manpower skills and knowledge. Even when such victims are exposed to good education and other forms of training, they would only be withheld to make them use their skills and knowledge within their countries of destination. Furthermore, the monies made by the traffickers are sometimes used to import illegal arms and ammunitions which are used by politicians and criminals to eliminate people within the country. Consequently, this gesture reduces the number of existing human capital in Nigeria11.
Apart from the inconsiderate treatment meted out on these women and children they neither feel at home in the hands of their captives, nor could they escape as the route are extremely risky. Stories abound on how women and children who are victims of traffickers have been rescued at border posts. Some rescued from refrigerated trucks severely dehydrated. Regardless of their age or sex; the women and children try to survive in a cruel environment. If we believe that children are the leaders of tomorrow, what type of future do we anticipate for a nation where child trafficking remains a lucrative business in our country.
The effects of trafficking are devastating therefore having negative consequences on our children. Isolated from their families, as well as communities and culture, most of these children find it difficult to trace their roots as a result of long wasted years or the influence exerted by their masters. Those women and children are denied their rights to in rare cases, some that managed to return to their villages finds it thorny to adjust to the new environment. The act of child trafficking is inhuman using our children as objects of transaction and its effects on the Nigeria include loss of lives, violence and crime, school drop outs, impaired children, poor national image, massive deportation of Nigerian girls. This, in addition, has worsened the regions growing AIDS crises because of the sexual exploitation of the victims13. It seems some parents do not help the matter as they occasionally defended traffickers after the arrest claiming they have their consents.
Nigeria is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically conditions of forced labor and forced prostitution. Trafficked Nigerian women and children are recruited from rural areas within the country‟s borders − women and girls for involuntary domestic servitude and forced commercial sexual exploitation, and boys for forced labour in street vending, domestic servitude, mining, and begging. Nigerian women and children are taken from Nigeria to other West and Central African countries, primarily Gabon, Cameroon, Ghana, Chad, Benin, Togo, Niger, Burkina Faso, and the Gambia, for the same purposes15. Children from West African states like Benin, Togo, and Ghana – where Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) rules allow for easy entry – are also forced to work in Nigeria, and some are subjected to hazardous jobs in Nigeria‟s granite mines. Nigerian women and girls are taken to Europe, especially to Italy and Russia, and to the Middle East and North Africa, for forced prostitution. Traffickers sometimes move their victims to Europe by caravan, forcing them to cross the desert on foot, and subjecting them to forced prostitution to repay heavy debts for travel expenses. During the reporting period, Nigerian girls were repatriated from Libya and Morocco, where they were reportedly held captive in the commercial sex trade.
The Government of Nigeria fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. It demonstrated sustained progress to combat human trafficking during the reporting period. In 2009, the government convicted 25 trafficking offenders and provided care for 1,109 victims, increases over the previous reporting period. It also continued to undertake strong efforts to raise awareness of human trafficking. In addition, its National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) ensured the practice of interrogating trafficking suspects at the same Lagos facility housing its shelter for trafficking victims. To better ensure victims‟ rights are respected, NAPTIP formed a committee in mid-2009 to review victim care policies, aiming to strike a balance between ensuring victims‟ safety in shelters and promoting their freedom of movement. The Nigerian government in 2009 pledged over $7 million in annual funds for NAPTIP‟s operation and activities; all government programs received partial payment pending budget approval by legislative and executive branches. Due to a four-month delay in approval of the 2010 national budget, funds were distributed to all federal agencies in April 201020.
The Government of Nigeria sustained law enforcement efforts to combat trafficking in 2003. The 2003 Trafficking in Persons Law Enforcement and Administration Act, amended to increase penalties for trafficking offenders, prohibits all forms of human trafficking. The law‟s prescribed penalties of five years‟ imprisonment and/or a $670 fine for labor trafficking, 10 years‟ imprisonment for trafficking of children for forced begging or hawking, and 10 years to life imprisonment for sex trafficking are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Nigeria‟s 2003 Child Rights Act also criminalizes child trafficking, though only 23 of the country‟s 36 states, including the Federal Capital Territory, have enacted it. According to the Nigerian constitution, laws pertaining to children’s rights fall under state purview; therefore, the Child Rights Act must be adopted by individual state legislatures to be fully implemented. NAPTIP reported 149 investigations, 26 prosecutions, and 25 convictions of trafficking offenses during the reporting period under the 2003 trafficking in Persons Act. Sentences ranged from two months to 10 years, with an average sentence of 2.66 years‟ imprisonment; only two convicted offenders were offered the option of paying a fine instead of serving prison time. Together with international partners, the government provided specialized training to officials on how to recognize, investigate, and prosecute instances of trafficking. Police and immigration officials, including those who work at border posts and airports, at times allegedly accepted bribes to overlook trafficking crimes. NAPTIP dismissed two staff members from public service who were found to have diverted victims‟ funds; they were made to refund the money back. Nigeria continued its efforts to protect trafficking victims in 2009. Police, customs, immigration, and NAPTIP officials systematically employed procedures to identify victims among high-risk persons, such as young women or girls traveling with non-family members. Data provided by NAPTIP reflected a total of 1,109 victims identified and provided assistance at one of NAPTIP‟s eight shelters throughout the country during the reporting period; 624 were cases of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation and 328 for labor exploitation. Various government agencies referred trafficking victims to NAPTIP for sheltering and other protective services: immigration referred 465; police referred 277; Social Services referred 192; and the State Security Service referred nine. Shelter staff assessed the needs of victims upon arrival and provided food, clothing, shelter, recreational activities, and instruction on various skills, including vocational training; psychological counseling was provided to only the most severe cases. While at NAPTIP‟s shelters, 70 victims received vocational training assistance provided by government funding. NAPTIP estimated the government‟s 2009 spending on its shelter facilities to be $666,000. The 2003 trafficking in Persons Law Enforcement and Administration Act provides for treatment, protection, and non-discriminatory practices for victims22. The law specified no trafficking victim could be detained for any offense committed as a result of being trafficked. During the reporting period, the government took steps to relocate victims‟ quarters a considerable distance from detention areas for trafficking offenders, greatly reducing the possibility traffickers could exert undue influence over their victims. Victims were allowed to stay in government shelters for six weeks. If a longer time period was needed, civil society partner agencies were contacted to take in the victim. Officials encouraged victims to assist with the investigation and prosecution of traffickers, and victims served as witnesses in all of NAPTIP‟s successful cases. Victims could theoretically seek redress through civil suits against traffickers, or claim funds from a Victims‟ Trust Fund set up in 2009 through which assets confiscated from traffickers are transferred to victims. The Trust Fund committee is chaired by the Minister of Justice and meets four times per year. The government provided a limited legal alternative to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they face hardship or retribution – short-term residency that cannot be extended.
The Government of Nigeria sustained strong efforts to raise awareness of human trafficking over the last year. NAPTIP‟s Public Enlightenment Unit worked throughout the reporting period on national and local programming to raise awareness. For example, in rural Benue, Kogi, and Edo States, NAPTIP introduced grassroots programs and held its first annual race against human trafficking in Edo State with 5,000 runners23. On the national level, it convened the 2009 Model UN Conference for secondary students with a theme of combating human trafficking. Furthermore, a nine-state tour was launched to establish state working groups against human trafficking. The objective of these and several related programs was to sensitize vulnerable people, sharpen public awareness of trends and tricks traffickers used to lure victims, warn parents, and share ideas among stakeholders. Audiences ranged from 50 to 5,000 persons. NAPTIP worked with Immigration Services to monitor emigration and immigration patterns for evidence of trafficking. The long-established Stakeholder Forum continued quarterly meetings in Abuja to foster collaboration among agencies. In August 2009, NAPTIP held a stakeholders‟ workshop in Kaduna to set program priorities and cost estimates for implementing the National Plan of Action, which was established in 200824. Nigerian troops undergo mandatory human rights and human trafficking training in preparation for peacekeeping duties abroad. The government did not take major action to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts, though officials moved to shut down two brothels in Lagos during the first quarter of 2010. At these brothels, authorities rescued 12 females, including six underage victims of trafficking. One property owner was convicted, sentenced to two years in prison, and required to forfeit his hotel; his case remained under appeal at the end of the reporting period. The second brothel owner‟s trial was ongoing and he remained totally free on bail.
Women and children have become the victims of crimes in many part of the country. Serious crimes like sexual violence, domestic violence against women, human-trafficking, cultural and religious crimes against women, child labour, unnecessary killings by different groups, kidnapping, etc. Children become vulnerable to being trafficked for a number of reasons, with the root causes being poverty and lack of opportunities, corruption and instability and/or armed conflict. Their parents may pay for them to be taken to another country, in the hope that they will gain employment and a better life abroad. Alternatively, children may be sold to traffickers by their parents, or kidnapped by such groups. Street children are particularly susceptible to becoming trafficking victims, as are children who suffer from other forms of discrimination. In the Niger Delta, children who have been stigmatized as “witches” are extremely at risk as they are usually rejected by their families and communities, and often live on the streets with no-one to care for them.
However, the unending issue of human trafficking still exists in the 21st century. Governments, international organizations and civil society are devoting considerable efforts to counter it, but there is still an information deficit about the extent of this tragedy. Only by understanding its depth, breadth and scope can we design policies to fight it. This understanding still eludes us; efforts to counter trafficking have so far been uncoordinated and inefficient. The above problems compelled the current research work to make an analysis of the concept of trafficking on women and children generally, with a view of providing workable recommendations to the identified problems.
1.2 The Statement of Research Problem
The problems for study are as follows:
1. In the last few decades, humanity has witnessed the emergence of several patterns of crimes of human trafficking. Nigeria has not been exclusive as it is confronted with pervasive crime waves, issues of “Boko Haram” officially called “Western Education is sacrilege or a sin”33, in the North-East and some North-Western states, for example, attacks by “Boko-Haram” in Baga, Gwoza and other parts of Borno State that caused massive displacement34, for example, the Book Haram group has abducted school girls at Chibok. Some of the girls were raped, some were allegedly sold to unknown persons, while some were forced into compulsory marriage at N10, 000: 00 dowry. even if the taking away of Chibok girls does not amount to human trafficking, their constitutional right to education, personal liberty, right to associate with their family members, development and right not to be subjected to force labour and or any degrading or inhuman treatment as enshrined in the Constitution35 has been violated. Loss of thousand of lives, destruction of houses and taking hostage of student girls, small children and their mothers, kidnapping in the Southern part of the country, which has compounded the problem of insecurity in the country. In the cities, hoodlums unleash terror on unsuspecting citizens, and bandits are reported to man many Nigeria link roads. There is also the problem of identification of criminals and those who train, fund, and harbor them. Upon all these criminal activities there has rarely been an instance where the criminals are prosecuted by the relevant authorities and the victims of such crimes are left unprotected. Another problem is also that in many occasions, women and children who are among the most vulnerable group of the society are mostly affected as victims of such crimes, whether of a primary or secondary degree, and whether in time of war or not. Women and children are always victims of sexual harassments like gang-rape, rape, defilement, all in the course of trafficking. Women and children are left handicap by the government, by not paying much attention to their predicaments. Women and children only end up getting meager donation from both the Federal and States governments, as if there are no laws or judicial arm to deal with the perpetrators of such crimes.
1. The past and present military and political leaders lack political will of the states to deal with the current issues despite large budgetary amount that was earmarked to deal with the issue of all sorts of criminal activities like human trafficking in the country36, they are not willing to put an end to the commission of such crimes and insecurity issues in the country neither are they showing any deep concern about the current position of the victims of those crimes, despite the country‟s police, civil defence and military personnel that are stationed in all angles of the country.
1. The absence of reliable records in the offices of NAPTIP, various ministry of justice and some police departments on crimes and victimization has hindered the understanding of crime pattern and trend of human trafficking in the country. Apart from identifying human trafficking trends, victim surveys help to elicit a clearer picture of levels of human trafficking victimization as well as the opinion of a cross-section of society on matters relating to human trafficking and punishment, their perception of the criminal justice agencies and the methods of handling offenders and victims of human trafficking. Such information collected from victims also covers their experience before, during and after the offence has occurred. It constitutes a better indicator of the level of crime than the number of crimes reported to and recorded by the police. As Mueller37argues, gathering information about crime victims would not only help analyzing victim-offender relationships, but also in planning crime prevention and control38.
1. Another problem lays in the lack of enforcement mechanisms in to search arrest and prosecution of the suspects of trafficking on women and children and deal with them in accordance with the provisions of the law. For example, Boko Haram abducted more than 200 Chibok girls in Borno State. But since then, nothing has been done to deal with the issue apart from propaganda by the authorities concerned in the Medias.
1. Lastly, parents and relations of trafficked persons are never interested in helping law enforcement officials to discourage their children or alert the officers responsible for the prohibition of trafficking in persons.
The above problems of study are still in the increase in Nigeria, which needs urgent intervention and control.
1.3 Objectives of the Research
The objectives of this research are:
1. To examine the laws on trafficking on women and children in Nigeria.
2. To examine the application of the law on the offence of trafficking on women and children.
3. To establish findings on the application of those laws on the offence of trafficking.
4. To provide recommendations.
1.4 Scope of the Research
The research examined international and municipal literatures that are relevant to the offence of trafficking in Nigeria, with particular emphasis on women and children as victims, being the most vulnerable groups in the society.
1.5 Justification of the Study
It is justifiable to conduct research on the topic from time to time in order to provide a current finding on the above problems. It also improved the existing literatures on the knowledge of the concept of trafficking on women and children in Nigeria, both at national and international levels. It further contributed positively to the legal knowledge of regulations and procedures for the protection of human trafficking and victims of such crime in Nigeria and at international parlance, particularly to lecturers and students as well as provided materials for future research on the topic.
1.6 Literature Review
In order to explain the meaning, nature and the concept of trafficking on women and children as it affects the Nigerian populace, study has been made of literary from the municipal and foreign sources. For example, statutes, case laws, textbooks, articles, journals, seminar papers, internet sources, etc. were used and acknowledged. The foundation for the research is based on contributions of writers on the field of criminology and criminal victimization as well as victims of crimes in Nigeria. The following existing literatures were used in the course of this research.
According to Adenekan, A.39 The phenomenon of slavery, no doubt, dates back to the ancient times when victorious armies and tribes in Europe and Asia found it more profitable to use as slave, people they caught in wars than to murder them just like that. In many Asian countries, likewise in Israel, slaves were bought and used for various domestic and farm labour. In the 14th century Europe, these unfortunate men and women caught at wars were known as serfs, a title that classified them as members of the lowest order and are “owned”, in most cases, by the lords of the manor. They attended to his mundane wishes, work in farms and depended solely on him for their livelihood.
The above author maintains that going by the history, the Portuguese started kidnapping and poaching human beings as far back as 1442 in the west coast of Africa particularly in countries like the Gold Coast (the present Ghana), Togo, Benin, and Nigeria while in 1517, they encouraged Spain to embrace the “lucrative” inhuman market. The English followed in 1553, France in 1624 and soon after the Dutch, the Danes, and America. Africa, in 1650, had a population of about 100 million (20 percent of the then existing world), 90m million in 1800, 95 million in 1850 and 120 million in 1900.
The author further views that taking into account the high profitability of the illicit trade in which human beings were the fiscal wares, many crude methods were employed for the security of the diabolical ventures. Cases were reported whereby houses in villages and hamlets were irrationally set ablaze in the middle of the nights just in order to catch hapless individuals including women and children for sale in open market like common household commodities. According to the above author, the illicit trade was always a subject of many crude channels. European ships were chartered by the merchants to take manufactured goods to the coast of Africa and on reaching the destination, the commodities were exchanged for slaves who would be later taken to the West Indies and sold for huge profits. In this place, their merchants used their money to buy commodities like sugar, coffee and tobacco which would be later taken back to Europe. Since the ultimate intention of the trade is to make huge profit, the ship captains loaded as much as healthy slaves for the lowest possible price. They normally had a system whereby the captains would bring a fewer number of slaves in their ships so that the chance of disease and death would be reduced to the barest minimum. It is quite apparent that hundreds of thousands of African men, women and children are forced by ever worsening environmental, economic and social circumstances into situations of labor and sexual exploitation both within and outside the continent every year. Trafficking in persons – the modern day slavery is evidently a serious threat to human security and development. Right now, awareness of trafficking increases gradually because of the vigilance on vehicles conveying child laborers to markets and plantations in different places. In Nigeria for example, an International Labour Organization (ILO) report found that 40% of the street children and street hawkers were victims of trafficking. In March 2002 for example, it was said that eight million Nigerian children undergo the worst forms of child labour serving as domestic servants, street beggars, hawkers, agricultural laborers and prostitutes. He maintains that at least 60% of foreign prostitutes in Italy are from African countries with the most of them from Nigeria. Nigerian and Italian authorities estimate that there are from 10,000 to 15,000 Nigerian prostitutes in Italy alone. Trafficking of foreign women into South Africa for commercial sexual exploitation from other areas of Africa, Europe and South-East Asia is not only growing but appears to be controlled by organized criminal gangs from Bulgaria, Russia, Thailand, China, and Nigeria.
It is very clear that without serious and sustained political will at the top levels of governments and throughout societies; intervention will remain limited compared to the scope and magnitude of the problem. Traffickers will continue to victimize African men, women and children, depriving them of their basic human rights, depriving countries of critical human capital to compete in the global economy and also governments of the ability to establish law and order within their own borders.
According to Ricco, V.45 and Attoh, F.46 majority of the people trafficked, ranging from children to girls, young women and men are usually engaged in forced labour. Such assignments include: domestic services, agricultural activities, prostitution and extraction of some parts of their body such as kidney and at the extreme, using them for rituals. The implication of this is that the human capital strength of the country is jeopardized as the resources in human persons are being wasted sometimes very prematurely. It is germane to note that even at the local and international fronts; victims of human trafficking are mostly subjected to carrying out odds jobs. These include assignments like; nannies, house helps and some other domestic works as well as street trade (hawking) which would never allow them to develop any reasonable low manpower skills, let alone middle or high level manpower skills and knowledge. Thus the people trafficked are usually under-developed while, it would also amount to Nigerian nation remaining at the developing stage. Ricco48 simply sees human trafficking as a modern or contemporary slavery. Such victims are forcefully or deceptively, collected and sold to others whom in most cases; mutilate their bodies in the name of branding or guarding against possible escape of such persons, and engaging them in all sorts of inhuman jobs including prostitution. Perhaps the basic distinction between the traditional slavery and the contemporary “human trafficking”, could be the sophisticated means of transportation and communication systems which the latter utilizes in the delivery of trafficked human beings to various destination ports.
Attoh defines human trafficking though, with emphasis on the female sex as “the illicit movement of young women across international borders for certain exploitative purposes.” She affirms that such unlawful movements usually take a bottom-top dimension. That is, it involves the exploitation of victims from the developing and underdeveloped countries to the developed nations. Whichever angle one looks at trafficking in persons, it is quite glaring that it has to do with taking people or someone away from his or her environment to a different location to do some work and other very odd things which ordinarily he or she would not accept doing. Whether the consent of such a person was sought and approval given before the said movement is immaterial. What most likely qualifies a victim as a trafficked person is that the fellow would be in another environment where he or she would be subjected to doing things against his or her volition. In other words, the fundamental rights of freedom of movement, association and even expression may have been denied such victims in question.
Awopegba, P.51 opines that Nigeria remains under-developed partly because of unplanned efforts towards the development of human capital; it could be argued further that, the state of under-development in the country may be attributed to the reduction of the human beings who ought to have been developed as human capital through trafficking in persons. According to the author trafficking in persons mostly, takes place from the South (developing countries) to the North (developed countries) and makes way for the transfer of human resource elements from the under-developed and developing countries to the developed countries of the world. This could be further explained as a conscious attempt by the North to further underdevelop Africa and some other nations in Asia and other continents of the world. Some people may also contend that trafficking in persons satisfies their utilitarian needs since, they can afford to make immediate financial gains but the long term effect would always be felt by the dearth of human capital in Nigeria. The number of Nigerians trafficked to Europe since the late 1990s were only able to generate fund for the traffickers to invest in other illicit trades and activities like drug trafficking and other mafia related businesses such as oil bunkering and exportation as well as importation and proliferation of arms and ammunitions. One may describe human trafficking as a cyclic process of evil against the development of human capital of Nigeria and many other nations where it thrives. Even when such victims are exposed to good education and other forms of training, they would only be withheld to make them use their skills and knowledge within their countries of destination. Furthermore, the monies made by the traffickers are sometimes used to import illegal arms and ammunitions which are used by politicians and criminals to eliminate some group of people within the country. Consequently, this gesture reduces the number of existing human capital in Nigeria and creates tension by eliminating people or group of people.
As pointed out by Dave-Odigie, C.52 “human trafficking deprives Nigeria of her human resources.” Although, she observes that majority of those trafficked are semi-literate and non-literates, the point remains that such people would have become part of human capital base of the country, were they conserved, educated and trained. The author further explains that human trafficking also reduces the population of human resource to death. For example, a good number of the trafficked persons especially, those who are used for prostitution, are more often vulnerable to the contraction of HIV/AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) because they are compelled to engage in unprotected sex. This in most cases results in premature death of such victims. Ironically, those who patronize the prostitutes too, become prone to the contraction of HIV/AIDS and subsequently face sudden deaths, even though they were not direct victims of human trafficking. Regrettably, trafficking in human beings certainly reduces the life expectancy of both the victims of the illicit business and that of normal persons in Nigerian society. This affects the country’s human capital base adversely. However, apart from pushing talents and human resources out of Africa through human trafficking as he submits, the locally consumed trafficked victims are subjected to personal under-development and further reduction in human capital development of Nigeria and other affected nations of Africa and the World in general.
Jegede, S.53 suggested that a nation should have at least 65 per cent literacy level in development. Thus, there is need to shift a pragmatic attention to the promotion of literacy programme or even design further programmes in that direction so as to reduce the high percentage of illiteracy in Nigeria and that of other developing African countries. Since illiteracy leads to poverty and poverty escalates human trafficking, which ostensibly jeopardizes the development of human capital in Nigeria, there is an urgent need to objectively, implement all the policies that relate to the advancement of Adult literacy and Non-formal education programmes and improve the general standard of education in the country.
According to Dalaker, J. and Proctor, B.54 farmers are more likely to be victims of poverty than people who live and work in cities. As a result, since the greater percent of Nigerians reside in the rural areas and engage in farm works, poverty is more pronounced there. This makes the poor people in the rural areas more prone to trafficking. Even in cities, there is the “underclass,” that is, the persistently poor, unemployed and dependent people who dominate the inner city. This class of individuals can voluntarily surrender themselves to be trafficked. Young girls are compelled to joining trafficking due to the inability of families to meet their primary responsibilities.
Butegwa, F.55 capture unemployment and poverty, as the major push for women participation in trafficking in persons. The authors maintain that trafficking in women in Nigeria is necessitated by unemployment, low socio-economic status and perhaps ignorance of the long term effect of the act on victims and society.
According to Aghatise, E.56 Poor implementation of laws that apply to the issue of human trafficking appears to be a contributing factor to the rapid growth and development of the illicit trade. For example, how many of the traffickers and their agents caught are prosecuted, let alone giving appropriate punishment? Thus, human traffickers tend to take undue advantage of the gap in the judicial system to perpetrate such heinous crimes against humanity and society. The author states that the law enforcement agents in Nigeria investigated 209 trafficking cases and convicted 23, the figure remains very infinitesimal when compared with the rate at which people are trafficked as reported in the media. High rate of illiteracy in developing countries is also responsible for people becoming vulnerable to human trafficking. It is quite easy to deceive illiterates into being trafficked than the educated persons. At least, an educated person would be conscious of getting involved in the crime unlike the illiterate who is more likely to believe false stories without asking logical questions.
Joseph, U.57 maintains that Juju is another major factor that “lubricates the wheel of human trafficking” in Nigeria. From the accounts of repentant traffickers, it was revealed that victims are usually mandated to seal their agreement with oath in shrines of voodoo or juju priests. The fear of losing their lives to oaths compels them to conceal the identities of traffickers from authorities. This claim is evident in the assertion of Abdulrahim Shaibu 58, The Deputy Director of NAPTIP‟s Prosecution and Legal Services, who maintains that the agency had problems prosecuting traffickers because victims are afraid of coming out in court to expose the supposed culprits due to the juju oaths they were forced to take.
John Egwu a retired Assistant Comptroller General of Immigration Service, as quoted by Nwagbo, N.59 states that, “victims of human trafficking are the main reason why the business thrives”. In his words, “the people who are being trafficked are willing tools and they are never willing to cooperate with the officials”. According to him, parents and relations of trafficked persons are never interested in helping law enforcement officials to discourage their children or alert the officers responsible for the prohibition of trafficking in persons. In the case of people trafficked into Nigeria from other countries, the retired Assistant Comptroller General of Immigration maintains that officials of those countries do not cooperate with Nigerian Immigration officials in most cases.
Kidnapping is another form of trafficking that affects the development and well being of women and children in Nigeria. According to Hiscox Insurance Group, as quoted by Pharoah, R.60, in Nigeria, kidnapping for ransom started in 1992 with a single incident. By the end of 1999, the figure had grown to 34, but government did not raise alarm until 26 February 2006 when the Niger Delta militants kidnapped foreign oil workers to press home their demand. Since then kidnapping has become ubiquitous and a commercialized venture. It has spread from the Niger Delta to virtually all nooks and crannies of the country, with some states of course being hotspots. Kidnappers now make victims not only of foreign oil workers but also of Nigerians suspected to be closely related to the wealthy including parents, grandparents, and toddlers from whom they hope to get some ransom. Those behind the recent wave of the despicable act have also changed from being exclusively Niger Delta militants to dodgy elements from different walks of life – armed robbers, unemployed, fraudsters and gangsters. In a survey report rendered by Eboh, C.61, more than 1,500 persons were said to have been kidnapped in Nigeria in 2009. This was against 512 persons in 2008 and 353 in 2007. The growing incidence of kidnapping in the country suggests its profitability. Kidnapping can be classified into two: criminal and political. While criminal kidnapping has the motive of obtaining ransom from the family or business of the victims, political kidnapping has the objective of furthering the political aim of the group or movement. In this case, a monetary ransom is demanded for the group to fund their activities. This type of kidnapping differs from holding individuals against political ends, such as the release of comrades from prison. Judging by this differentiation, one can conclude that most of the kidnapping in Nigeria are criminally motivated. When the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), started kidnapping foreign oil workers in 2006, the emphasis was largely political: to gain a share of the region’s wealth. Presently, many criminal gangs have taken to kidnapping and have made ransom payment their main source of income.
The above literatures used in the course of this research are found resourceful to this study. The literatures reviewed above have addressed topical issues of concern on trafficking on women and children. However, this research aims at contributing current findings and recommendations.
1.7 Research Methodology
One principal method was the use of data and information. The doctrinal method of research was used, using library materials such as books, articles, journals, periodicals, seminar papers, as well as internet/websites, etc.