Delta state Commissioner for Justice and attorney General and chairman, Task Force against Human trafficking and illegal migration leading the awareness creation walk in Asaba today, Thursday 8/8/2019.
By Chukwudi Abiandu
“Many of us were sold in Libya to buyers who flogged and tortured us. I was in prison for seven months in and stayed in nine prisons in all because we were moved from prison to prison. About 150 of us were sold as slaves; daily one person would die. A woman that died was roasted. There was a colleague from Agbor who had to run mad and he eventually died because of torture. It was our fellow Nigerians who were being used to subject us to daily floggings and other forms of torture” – Sunday Emmanuel, a Libya travel returnee.
“I thank God for the Federal Government that made it possible for us to return from Libya. We were taken and moved from prison to prison. We were given food once a day, and made to drink water from the toilet.” – Another victim of human trafficking.
“I was the one that was working in the bank who left after being spoken by somebody about traveling out. I did not say I am planning to travel again. In Libya, the people love their goats more than the human being. We were made to feed the goats with good food but we were given bread as hard as the stone as food to eat. And the war being fought in Libya was the war between states, and we were given guns even without training on how to fire the guns, and made to fight their enemies. And they knew we had no choice but to do their bidding, otherwise you will be killed. Many people died in our prison and were made to live with the dead, rotting and stinking corpses in the cell. We suffered.” – Godspower Nkwo, leader of Libya returnees in Agbor.
Obiazi Hilary, a Libya returnee said: “I sold the only land that my father had to travel. My burga and pusher failed to ‘push’ me beyond Libya into Europe as our engine developed problems on the high sea and there was nowhere to go. I fasted and prayed for two months. And when our boat was stuck on the high sea, many persons died in the process. But suddenly, a strong wave came on the sea and moved our boat back to Libya that was how we survived and were moved back to prison. I lost my best friend who could not survive the sufferings and harsh treatments were we subjected to. I celebrated the 2018 New Year in prison in Libya.”
Yet another returnee in his testimony of experience in Libya said: “We are not used to eating food. We eat once a day, and it is a tea spoon of rice that we are given once a day. They sell and kill people to use the parts of their body to sell for money. A pregnant woman was sold and killed.”
What you have just read is the account of some of the human beings, and Deltans who fell victims of the nefarious activities of human traffickers and illegal migration. They spoke with their own mouths, both male and female today, at the Oshimili South Arcade, Asaba venue of the rally organized by the Delta state Task Force Against Human Trafficking and Illegal Migration led by the State Attorney General and commissioner for Justice, Mr. Peter Mrakpor Esq.
Today’s event which coincided with the “World day Against Human Trafficking, with the theme: A call To Action” kicked off with a long walk and procession involving members of the Task Force, Journalists, the security agencies and civil right groups, all of who carried placards and distributed fliers denouncing human trafficking and illegal migration. There were assorted vehicles laden with music that attracted attention of onlookers and followed by announcements from the microphones calling attention of the citizens to say “No to human trafficking and illegal migration and child abuse.”
The announcers in particular called on parents and guardians to be wary of anyone coming to want to talk them into giving their children jobs abroad, saying it is lie, a deception to take their children on the voyage of human trafficking without the prospect of return. Therefore, they called on the people to say “No to human trafficking.”
Similarly, the potential travelers, the youths, who are indeed, the objects of deception and lure by the Human traffickers and their cohorts in the illicit trade of illegal migration were told to ignore and say no to anyone who comes to sweet talk them by dangling the carrot of helping them to travel out of the country to get good jobs with better pay. They were told to say ‘No’, because what is being dangled at them is not genuine, but deception to lure them into what they did not bargain for, slavery with the prospect of being used and possibly killed with their vital organs removed by their eventual buyers, all for money.
A man who read through the fliers given to him, and having listened to the announcement blaring from the mobile vehicle and the microphone said: “No worry, now we go pursue them.” The man spoke at the Kowea plaza area of Asaba on Nnebisi Road as the awareness creation train moved on against human trafficking and illegal migration.
Of course, one of the fliers and posters read: “Okowa says No to Human trafficking,” and another states, “Travel is you right, but do it right.” In other words, the people are being told that there is a fight initiated by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa against the evil and wickedness of those engaged in human trafficking, and those luring the youths with deception into undertaking illegal travels abroad.
Meanwhile, the poster that was urging potential travelers that it is their right to travel, but that they must follow the right procedures to achieve their travels. It is call their attention to the fact that it is not Government’s will to deny one the opportunity to travel, but that traveling must be genuine, and that a genuine travel requires a legal process to be followed and achieved . It is in achieving this legal process that makes it difficult for victims to be put in prison and subjected to inhuman treatment and sufferings. It is also to educate parents, guidance and the youth that illegal and human trafficking is an invitation to be subjected to trauma by the host country and a violation of the laws of their country because the immigrant is an illegal immigrant to that country. Thus, such persons expose themselves to the whims and caprice of wicked people who takes advantage of their plights to do whatsoever they want with them, including selling them into slavery. It is because they have no legal status to be in that country the reason why they are kept in prison because they have defiled the migrant laws of the host country.
These points were driven home at the Oshimili South Arcade rally by the various speakers that came on the podium to speak. Commodore Nduka Nwanne of the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Human Persons (NAPTIP), Benin zone, thanked Governor Okowa of Delta State for putting in place a structure to create awareness against the evil of human trafficking. Although, he hinted that Delta State is now an endemic state in the scourge like Edo State, but that of the 36 states in the federation it is only Delta and Edo States that have taken the bold initiative to address the situation by creating awareness to fight the human trafficking and illegal migration. And urging the congregation to stand up, he led them to give RED CARD to Human trafficking, saying: “Say no to human trafficking.”
In the red card designed by NAPTPIP states: Do you know that …
• It is a crime to employ a child under 12 years as a domestic worker?
• It is a crime to employ a child under 18 years to do any work that is exploitative, injurious or hazardous to the development of the child?
• It is a crime to deal with any person as a slave?
• It is a crime to remove, buy or sell human organs?
• It is a crime to organize foreign travels which promotes prostitution of any person?
• The above crimes attract between six and seven years imprisonment?
And to the evil dealers and their allies, NAPTIP warns, saying “Beware! Many have been jailed, don’t join them”.
The Delta State Commissioner for Women Affairs, community and social Development, Mrs. Alanta told the congregation: “We are here to fight against human trafficking in Delta State. In Nigeria and especially in Delta state, we have a blessed state and a blessed nation. It is our responsibility to keep our future. And Children are our future.
Recalling the harrowing tale of the dehumanizing experience rendered by Sunday Emmanuel, one of the Libya returnees, Mrs. Alanta said: “Let us give hope to our children; let us be care givers. Some parents are even the badmouthing their children, by comparing them with the children of others, who to them, are in Libya and sending money to their parents.” Such parents scold their children to try and emulate those that traveled without trying to find out what those who traveled out are passing through, she said.
For the Director of Orientation, Mrs. Stella Macaulay, she said it was sad believe that the impression is being created that Nigerians don’t give care to others.
According to her, it is not poverty that is making people to accept to go on trips that make them victims of the ignoble practice of human trafficking. “Before, it used to be Edo State, and we heard the exploits of Mrs Lucky Igbinedion who tried to check the menace in Edo state, but it is with us in Delta state. And we stand here as a people to lend our voice against human trafficking. This is a wakeup call. And to members of the Youth Corps members present here, Take this message back to others, Mrs.Macaulay said.
For Dr, Genevieve Mordi, a member of the Task Force, she recalled the chilling testimony of some of the Libya victims of human trafficking and illegal migration saying: Some of them said they ate one teaspoon of rice a day as their meal.
She continued: “But I don’t know how to convince the youths not to engage in this disastrous expedition because it is a thing of the mind. One of the returnees, a girl who was seriously sick on arrival narrated how she was made to eat human feaces (poo-poo) just for $50,000. And she did. But she was deported, and now very sick; I don’t know if she is still alive.”
Counseling the youth in Nigeria, Dr. Mordi said: “You can make it in Nigeria. Please take note that it is not as rosy out there as the deceivers and human traffickers try to tell you. If you want tom travel, travel legally. And if it is some persons that are nudging you and trying to convince you to travel, please find out about them from NAPTIP.”
In his speech, Mr Oma Vincent Kademi, who represented the Controller of Immigration Service in Delta State informed the audience that the Service has anti-human trafficking functions, and that they are doing a lot in that regard. “The message that the Delta State Government is passing across comes down to the parents and guidance,” he said, pointing out that there are under aged girls in then brothels who human traffickers go to and brainwash that they will get better deals when they travel outside the country than what they are getting here.”
The Attorney General and Chairman of the Delta State Task Force Against Human Trafficking and Illegal Migration, Mr. Peter Mrakpor identified parents as being the first line of the problem of human trafficking and illegal migration. “You realize that those who travel rarely do well,” he said.
According to him, the second problem is that having sent a child to school, and while it is true that it is not easy to get jobs, it is the reason that Governor Okowa set up the job Creation Department and skill acquisition trainings and programmes like YAGEP and others so that the youths can take advantage of to better themselves and become self sufficient.
He lamented the case of a Libya returnee who did the skill acquisition training and sold the starter park that was given to him for NI.5 million with which he sought to migrate, and thus became a victim of human trafficking. He was fortunate to suffer, and now deported.
Mrakpor also recalled the testimony of Nkwor who left Nigeria without knowing how to handle the rifle but that while there he was taught how to fire the gun. “It’s a big problem that we have with us,” he said.
Pointing out that the awareness creation of the evil of human trafficking and illegal migration is to call each and everyone to take action and so “No” them, he recalled also how he watched the video where a trafficked girl was asked to open her mouth and saw excreta dropping into her mouth.
Mrakpor announced that the fight against human trafficking and illegal migration is fully in place in Delta State. “We are going to take it to all the 25 local government areas of the state. “And we want to appeal to all that this is a reality that is now with us,” he said.
Mr Chukwudi Abiandu, Editor-in-Chief, on duty for banneronlinenews.com at the walk and rally campaign against Human Trafficking and illegal migration in Asaba. Photos: Olushola Oladapo