Over one hundred students lost to traffickers in Edo State
In May it was reported that over 100 students of the Idogbo Secondary School in Benin-City, have been trafficked abroad in the previous four months.
This is in spite of attempts by the Edo state and the national government to reverse the trend through educational campaigns against human trafficking.
Senior Special Assistant to Gov Godwin Obaseki on Human trafficking and illegal migration, Mr. Solomon Okoduwa, made the revelation during an advocacy programme at the school. According to Okoduwa, teachers are concerned that schools are becoming hunting grounds for human traffickers.
Okoduwa vowed that the state government would curtail such activities, and that the state’s task force against human trafficking would pursue perpetrators. Okoduwa also promised that the government would step up its educational campaign against trafficking.
Okoduwa warned the students to be wary of traffickers and to report them to the authorities. “Report anyone who tells you to travel to Europe,” Okoduwa said, “they are simply taking you through the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea and you may eventually end up in Libya.”
In describing the voyage to Europe, Okoduwa painted an ugly picture of the fate awaiting many migrants. “Taking the route of Sahara desert and other illegal routes is hellish,” he said, describing those who died of hunger or drowned in the Mediterranean Sea in search of greener pastures.
“Worst still, the families of those people that died on their journey were made to pay for the travel expenses, when unknown to them their loved ones have gone to the great beyond, ” he added.
“If anyone tells you to travel abroad through Libya, tell him or her capital NO. If you must travel for any reason, travel the right way.”
The News Agency of Nigeria recently reported that the Edo State government had received approximately 3,400 returnees from Libya in the past six months.
Over the years, Edo state as well as other states in the south-south geo-political zone of Nigeria has become a hotbed for human trafficking, with the majority of irregular Nigerian migrants coming from this region. In early 2000, it was alleged that the majority of African sex workers in Italy were from Edo State.
It had become a status symbol for families in Edo State to have one or two of their relatives in Europe. Recently, this attitude has changed, as Nigerians have grown increasingly worried over the possibility of a bandwagon effect that facilitates trafficking.
With horror stories of the terrible hardships in the Sahara Desert and drownings in the Mediterranean – as well as the deportations from Libya and Europe – citizens, governments, and non-governmental organisations are trying to come to grips with the often-devastating phenomenon of irregular migration.
TMP – 04/07/2018
Photo credit: www.hyve.ng. Students of Idogbo Secondary School in Edo State