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.