By; RAYMOND TEDUNJAYE, Lagos
The Benin Traditional Institution is to work with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) to stem the tide of human trafficking in Edo State and indeed, Nigeria.
This was the outcome of the advocacy visit of the Director-General of NAPTIP, Dame Julie Okah-Donli to His Majesty, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II Ogidigan, Oba of Benin Kinston, in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
The Director-General had led a team of NAPTIP officials to the Royal father to enlist the support of the traditional institution in Edo State and in particular the Benin Kingdom in the fight against human trafficking bearing in mind the bad image it has attracted for the state.
In a release made available to journalists in Lagos, she urged the Oba of Benin to join NAPTIP in its renewed efforts at stopping the ‘juju priests’ in Benin from further administering oaths on victims of human trafficking that are brought to them by suspected criminal elements.
‘’We are doing our best in sensitising the juju priests against the practice and many have assured us that they will no longer administer oaths on the victims, but as a respected Royal Father in this land whose words are respected, I respectfully implore Your Majesty to use your good offices to talk to these juju priests and the chiefs involved. You may wish to summon all of them and talk to them, and we are ready to join Your Majesty to sensitise them on the effects of their actions on the helpless young people.
‘’Many of the young people that have left may never come back as they are dead and their parents are still hoping that they will come back some day with loads of money, while many have lost their minds as a result of the exploitation they have gone through’’.
She also enjoined the Royal Father to bring the issue of human trafficking to the front burner within the fold of the traditional institutions across the country.
‘’Every victim of human trafficking has come from a community before being a Nigerian and one of the responsibilities of the traditional institution apart from upholding the culture and tradition of the land is to protect and defend the people that they lead’’, she said.
In his response, the Oba of Benin who commended NAPTIP on its exploits against human trafficking over the years, declared his commitment to fight the menace, adding that he had done it in the past when he was the Nigerian Ambassador to Italy.
He said it was for that reason that he established the Oba of Benin Foundation. The Foundation has Miss Ifueko Aideyan as the FACE OF OBA OF BENIN FOUNDATION.
‘’NAPTIP has been doing a very wonderful work in fighting human trafficking and everyone sees it. I know it is a difficult and challenging work but we are behind you’’, he said.
He however, directed officials of the Foundation and members of his cabinet to work with NAPTIP as partners to fight the scourge in Benin. He also warned perpetrators of the heinous act to stay away from Benin as the trade has brought more sorrow than joy to the people.
While condemning the enslavement of Nigerians in Libya, he disclosed how shocked he was when he heard that many of the victims were able bodied men and women who packed up their businesses, sold all they had to embark on they journey and later became slaves.
‘’If anyone wants to travel, he should travel legally’’, he said
He also frowned at the activities of the native doctors and the juju priests in the trafficking chain but assure that the Palace will call them to order.
‘’We have noted the activities of the native doctors or the juju priests as you call them. We will do our best to discourage them from getting involved in this crime. We will appeal to them. We will talk directly to them to stop what they are doing. We will call them to order and I believe they will listen to us’’, he further added.
While calling for a tripartite arrangement amongst the federal, states and traditional institutions in the fight against trafficking, he stated that the leadership of Churches should also be called to order as some of their activities encourage human trafficking.