Locked Out – Nigeria’s Trafficked Children Have Never been to School

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Nigeria remains a source, transit and destination country when it comes to human trafficking. © Tobore Ovuorie and Yemisi Onadipe/IPS

By Tobore Ovuorie and Yemisi Onadipe

LAGOS, Nigeria, Oct 31 2019 (IPS) - “Human trafficking is when someone is taken from Nigeria to another country to be a prostitute. Or, to do other illegal jobs that are not good for humanity,” said Kingsley Chidiebere, a commercial motorcycle rider in Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos.

He is one of the over 27 Nigerians interviewed so far by IPS who thinks human trafficking is when a “lady goes to Europe to prostitute herself”.

Though a father himself, Chidiebere, like others interviewed, does not know that children are trafficked to other countries and within Nigeria as well.

Nigeria’s National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), founded in 2003 in response to the country’s high rate of human trafficking, said while most of the victims of trafficking here are women, children and men now make up a significant portion of trafficked victims compared to a decade ago.

  • In a 2014 report, NAPTIP said children comprised 28 percent of detected victims, and men, 21 percent.
  • NAPTIP said that the two most-reported human trafficking cases here include cases where women are prostituted internationally and the employment of children as domestic workers. In many cases these child labourers also suffer physical abuse.

Human trafficking and modern day slavery involve the illegal trade of people for exploitation or commercial gain and is a $150 billion global industry.

Two thirds of this figure — $99 billion — is generated from commercial sexual exploitation, while another $51 billion results from forced economic exploitation, including domestic work, agriculture and other economic activities.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in its 2016 Global Report On Trafficking In Persons says globally more than 500 different trafficking flows were detected between 2012 and 2014.

  • In Nigeria, 42 percent of detected victims between 2012 and 2014 were adults, with the remaining numbers accounting for children.
  • The UNODC reports 69 countries reported to have detected 21,251 victims from Sub-Saharan Africa between 2012 and 2014. Nigeria had 1,030 detected trafficking victims. Of these, 322 were adults (61 males, 261 females) and 708 were children (458 boys, 250 girls).
  • “More recently, reports have surfaced that children in northern Nigeria are being forced by the terrorist group Boko Haram to carry out suicide attacks, the ultimate form of exploitation.
  • “Earlier this year, UNICEF reported that suicide attacks by Boko Haram rose 11-fold from 2014 to 2015, and that 20 percent of the attacks were committed by children as young as eight,” the report stated.

Barrister Julie Okah-Donli, the Director General of NAPTIP said parents who give their children away to work as domestics are endangering them. She warned that these kids end up in the hands of human traffickers.