The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) says Enugu State is endemic for baby factory, child abuse, domestic servitude and sexual exploitation.
The Director-General of NAPTIP, Mrs Julie Okah-Donli, said this on Wednesday in Enugu during an advocacy visit to the palace of Igwe Julius Nnaji, the Traditional Ruler of Nike in Enugu East Local Government Area of the state.
Okah-Donli said that although all the states in the federation were affected by migration and human trafficking, Enugu state remained endemic.
She said that the agency rescued no fewer than 444 indigenes of the state, comprising 339 females and 105 males from the vice between 2004 and July 2020.
“These victims were subjected to child abuse, sale of baby, domestic servitude, foreign travels and sexual exploitation,” she said.
The NAPTIP boss listed Enugu North, Enugu South, Enugu East, Nsukka, Igboeze South, Igboeze North, Aninri and Awgu as the most endemic local government areas.
She said that the agency was in the state to inaugurate the Enugu State Task Force on Human Trafficking.
Okah-Donli said that the task force would help to strengthen the capacity of state and non-state institutions to assist, support and protect victims of trafficking.
She said that the effort would enhance collaboration between communities and government to reduce and prevent trafficking through targeted sensitisation and capacity building workshops.
She regreted that in spite of efforts to contain human trafficking and its associated ills, the menace continued to rise.
The director-general said that human trafficking is currently rated as the second largest and most lucrative criminal enterprise globally after trafficking in small arms.
“This generates 150 billion US Dollars per annum, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
“From NAPTIP records, about 95 per cent of victims of human trafficking are young people below 35 years and mostly women and children,” she said.
Okah-Donli said that traffickers were recruiting their victims from vulnerable rural communities, taking them through hazardous terrains with promises of greener pastures abroad.
She called for the partnership of the traditional institution towards a nation-wide awareness against the violation of women, girls and children’s rights in the state.
She said that it had become necessary to mobilise indigenes of the state to be vigilant against the trafficking of young women to the West African countries for exploitation.
Responding, Nnaji said that he was shocked to hear that issues of human trafficking and its associated ills existed in such magnitude in the state.
Nnaji, who is the Vice Chairman, Enugu State Traditional Rulers Council, said that the traditional institution would be willing to partner with the agency to combat the scourge.
“It pains me that these awful practices exist in Enugu state. You should tell us the areas you want us to come in,” he said.
Nnaji said that his kingdom had since abolished all dehumanising cultural practices against widows and women in general.