If the truth must be said, NAPTIP is doing nothing. It is just another non productive, moribund government agency that simply employs people to come to office, sit idle and gossip. NAPTIP is the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, yet human trafficking is still very much a striving business.
According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), thousands of underage Nigerian girls are being sold as sex slaves as they arrive in Italy after crossing the Mediterranean Sea. These are the lucky ones, the unfortunate ones dies during the arduous and dangerous journey as in the case of the 26 Nigerian teenage girls whose bodies were recently recovered at sea.
In August, the IOM raised the alarm about the dramatic increase in young Nigerians being trafficked to Italy, pointing out that the numbers of potential sex-trafficking victims from Nigeria to Italy has shot up by 600 percent in the past three years and the number of Nigerian women arriving shows no sign of slowing. Yet, NAPTIP did nothing but sit in Abuja and reel out falsified statistics.
Aid workers said, almost of all the victims of sex trafficking arrive in Italy with a phone number of a Nigerian connection, who usually comes to pick them up at the migrant centres and takes them off to work on the streets. The girls are then informed that they have to pay back a debt of anywhere between €20,000 – €50,000 to those who helped them flee their countries before they can be free. These girls are paid between €10-€30 for a sexual act.
This year alone, 250 young Nigerian girls have been saved from this ordeal. Most of these girls are from Benin City in Edo State where they are told to take juju oath. The juju oath is taken with clippings of their pubic hair and fingernails. The oath is a threat of untold calamities if they failed to carry their assignment and pay their debt.
The girls then spend months travelling through the desert in Niger and Libya, and once in Tripoli, spend months in camps, detention centres and connection houses where they are often raped, tortured and abused before being loaded onto rubber dinghies bound for Italy.
Blessing Okoedion, a Nigerian woman who was forced into prostitution when she arrived in Italy has written a book called “The Courage of Liberty”. She also frequently speaks publicly about the problem of sex slavery and the trafficking of Nigerian women.
On Friday, Nigerian women were among the 620 migrants who were brought by an Italian Coast Guard ship to the Sicilian port of Messina.
According to the IOM, 5,204 Nigerian women arrived between January 1 and October 31 this year, representing 45 percent of the total number of women arriving in Italy by sea.