AN ANALYSIS OF THE CONCEPT OF VICTIMS OF CRIMES IN NIGERIA
It is not exaggeration that despite the effort of NAPTIP and other bodies like the ILO, 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. Some of the problems of trafficking in persons are; 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, 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 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, the lack of enforcement mechanisms in to search arrest and prosecutions of the suspects of trafficking and deal with them in accordance with provisions of the law is another problem. Some of the objectives are; to examine the laws on trafficking, to examine the application of the law on the offence of trafficking, also to establish findings on the application of those laws on the offence of trafficking and to provide recommendations. The findings are; the judiciary and administrative mechanisms for the prevention of human trafficking is ineffective, illiteracy contribute a lot to backwardness of combating human trafficking, Nigerian anti-trafficking law in itself does not provide a serious punishment that is commensurate with the gravity of the offences, it has been observed that there has been a problem of lack of coordination between international agencies and the Nigerian domestic agencies, i.e. NAPTIP and other law enforcement agencies that are meant for protection of trafficking. The recommendations are; Judicial and administrative mechanisms should be strengthened where necessary to enable victims to obtain prompt and adequate redress through formal and informal procedures that are expeditious, fair, inexpensive and accessible, Need to educate the public about the rights and duties of suspects, offenders, victims and the state as stakeholders in the criminal justice system, Need to further re-examine our criminal justice administration with a view to addressing the problems created by our inheritance of a colonial system which extols the theory of law and state to the point that recognizes only the state and the offender as the “parties” to criminal proceedings, and to the attendant neglect of the rights and welfare of the victim.
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 baby2. 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
1. Adenekan, A. (N.D.) Human trafficking – the 21st century slavery in: a journal Of The Pan-African Reconciliation Centre, pp 56-89. 2. Pharoah, R. An unknown quantity: Kidnapping for ransom in South Africa. South African Crime Quarterly, No. 4, (2005), pp. 23 – 28.
the development of such destination countries would have been the same people who ought to have been developed and used in Nigerian nation3.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 nation4.
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 15years, 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 labour5. 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 interest6.
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.7 Traffickers prey on the vulnerability of such poor parents who are mostly illiterates to
3. Adenekan, A op cit ,p. 58 4. Ibid 5. Ibid 6 Ibid 7. Pharoah, R. op cit p. 25
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/AIDS8. 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
8. Adenekan, A. op cit, pp 56-89 9. Ibid 10. Pharoah, R. op cit, pp. 23-28
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 country12.
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
11. Ibid 12. Adenekan, A. op cit, pp 56-89 13. Ibid
occasionally defended traffickers after the arrest claiming they have their consents. Trafficking in child labour occurs along numerous routes in West Africa14.
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 Europe16, especially to Italy and Russia, and to the Middle East and North Africa, for forced prostitution17. 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
14. Ibid 15. Ibid 16. Awopegba, P. “Human capital development in Nigeria,” A Socio-Economic Analysis, Nigerian Journal of Clinical and Counselling Psychology, Vol. 7, No. 1 and 2: (2001), pp. 157 – 167. 17.Ricco, V. “Modern Slavery: Human bondage in Africa, Asia and the Dominican Republic.” (2001), Available at http:www.infoplease.com/spot/slavery1.html,Accessed on 06/-8-2014.
period, Nigerian girls were repatriated from Libya and Morocco, where they were reportedly held captive in the commercial sex trade18.
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 period19. 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
18. ibid 19. Attoh, F. “Trafficking in women in Nigeria: Poverty of Values or Inequality?” Journal of Social Sciences, Vol. 19, No. 3, (2009), pp. 167 – 171. 20. Ibid
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.21 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.
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