ABUJA, NIGERIA – Nigeria is celebrating this year’s World Anti-Trafficking Day with a march in the capital to raise awareness. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime says Nigeria is a major country of origin, transit and destination in Africa for human trafficking, but has a low conviction rate for those arrested.
Around 200 attendees, including officials, partners, nonprofits and victims of human trafficking, attended the Abuja awareness raising on Thursday.
It was part of the week leading up to World Anti-Trafficking Day on July 30th.
Among the demonstrators was human trafficking victim, Yetunde Abraham.
“I am happy because I am back in my country,” said Abraham. “It was a difficult time, the life that I have … when I traveled to Libya I learned that this world is not what it seems. People were raped, killed, a lot that I can’t say. “
Like thousands of victims of human trafficking every year, Abraham in Germany was outwitted by a close relative with a hefty offer.
Unfortunately, your browser cannot support embedded videos of this type. You can download this video for offline viewing.
Nigerian victims of human trafficking are rebuilding their lives after returning home
She succumbed to the bait and was taken to Libya for prostitution in order to earn money for her smugglers. She was there for six years.
According to the United Nations, Nigeria remains a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking in Africa. To address this problem, the Nigerian authorities established a National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Human Beings, NAPTIP, in 2003.
NAPTIP has rescued over 17,000 victims and convicted approximately 550 offenders, a very small percentage compared to the number of incidents of the crime.
NAPTIP scout Josiah Emerole explains why conviction is not so easy.
“The bad law enforcement problem is not just a Nigerian thing, as I told you, human trafficking is a secret crime and you need to prove that such a crime was committed,” said Emerole. “You have to bring the victim of human trafficking before me and the victim has to be willing to face the judge to say this happened to me.”
Josiah Emerole (center) NAPTIP public education officer walking with other participants during the Abuja reconnaissance march on July 29, 2021. (Timothy Obiezu / VOA)
Emmanuel Gabriel, founder of Symbols of Hope, a nonprofit that helps victims of human trafficking like Abraham rebuild their lives, says authorities need to improve their law enforcement.
“I think it’s a very, very bad number,” said Gabriel. “It is high time we wake up and stop cheating on ourselves, let’s face reality. If you don’t do justice to victims of human trafficking today, it will be your own son or daughter.”
At least 1.4 million victims of human trafficking are living under coercion, exploitation and humiliation in Nigeria, according to the International Organization for Migration. Authorities say those who speak up, like Yetunde Abraham, are instrumental in developing and implementing measures against the perpetrators.