Irked by the increasing number of victims of human trafficking from Edo State, Girls’ Power Initiative (GPI) has held series of town hall meetings to explain, discuss as well as pass information on the horrific crime of human trafficking and the attendant consequences in Edo State.
The town hall meetings were held in 5 selected communities from the 5 local government areas that make up the Edo Central Senatorial District. The communities and local governments are: Usenu community in Esan Central Local Government Area, Ebelle community in Igueben Local Government Area.
Others are Ewohimi community in Esan South East Local Government Area, Uromi community in Esan North East Local government Area and Iruekpen in Esan West Local Government Area.
The town hall meeting, which is part of activities of GPI anti-human trafficking project “Engendering Community Participation to Reduce Vulnerability of Minors to Human Trafficking in Edo State”, featured sensitization seminar, film shows, interactive discussions among other activities.
The Engendering Community Participation to reduce vulnerability of minors to Human trafficking in Edo state project is anti-human trafficking awareness raising one-year project funded by the Denmark Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Denmark Embassy in Nigeria.
The following were some of the highlights of events during the meetings:
ESAN CENTRAL LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA
At Usenu community in Esan Central Local Government Area, May Ekido informed the participants present that human trafficking has become a big menace in our society which needs to be curtailed and that the essence of the town hall meetings was to sensitize the people on the issues of migration and human trafficking, show films of what people suffer in trying to travel abroad illegally and together suggest possible solution to the problem.
On her part, Joan Ojiewa, NAPTIP representative, enlightened participants more about human trafficking. She told the participants what constitutes trafficking and the effect of trafficking. She also urged the participants to report any case of trafficking to NAPTIP and gave the hotline number they should call to report such cases.
During the discussions, the following were some of the reasons participants listed as the reasons why people want to travel and fall victims of human trafficking.
To curb the menace, the following solutions were suggested by participants:
IGUEBEN L G A
The town hall meeting for this LGA was held on the 19th of March 2018 at the civic hall of Ebelle.
Present at the town hall meeting were 58 persons of which 24 were females and 34 were males. The meeting was attended by many dignitaries from Igueben LGA, representatives of NAPTIP, The Nigerian Observer, and Justice Development and Peace Caritas Initiative (JDPCI).
The participants had a good knowledge of human trafficking and migration.
Film screening was done, participants were engrossed in the films and one participant recorded the films with his tablet phone and when asked why he did that, he said he would use the film to educate more people.
During film screening, May Ekido did some explanation for the participants to understand the films better.
After the film screening, participants were asked to give reasons for illegal migration. Their responses were;
Solutions proffered include;
ESAN NORTH EAST LGA
Town hall meeting for this LGA was held at the Enojie’s palace, Ewohimi community on Tuesday 20th March 2018.
There was introduction of participants and present at the meeting were 61 persons of which 18 were females and 43 were males. Amongst participants were Chiefs, pastors, teachers, a police officer, a NAPTIP representative, a media personnel and many others.
Opening remark was given by the Project Officer, May Ekido while Rahmat Asemota did the pre test of their knowledge of human trafficking and migration and most of them have knowledge about migration and trafficking. During their responses to meaning of trafficking and migration, they added some causes. Their responses were;
Rahmat gave them information on migration and how to migrate safely while Joan Ojiewa from NAPTIP told them all about human trafficking and what constitute human trafficking and how to identify a trafficking journey. She gave out the NAPTIP hotline to call in case they have cases of human trafficking to report.
There was film screening of the NAWA festival films and participants watched keenly.
After the film screening a participant asked why GPI is just starting to talk about human trafficking which has been on ground for over 4 decade. May Ekido responded that GPI was one of the first NGO in Edo state to have anti human trafficking activities. GPI has been working tirelessly to end human trafficking since 1995. She said GPI activities are in phases and that its just that its now town hall meeting is being carried out in their community as other activities has already been done in other communities.
The participants recommendations to end human trafficking include;
May Ekido thanked participants for their honest responses and asked the community chief (Enojie) for some advice.
The Enojie said youths should be sensitized, the message should be communicated to market men and women and other old people. GPI should organise more meetings in other sections to make sure that the message reach the farmers because they are the ones willing to offer their children to be trafficked. He also said if the economy of Nigeria is good, the idea of going abroad will reduce. The value of the naira should increase so that people will remain in Nigeria.
The Enojie thanked GPI for coming to his community and expressed his gratitude to Danish Embassy for their support.
ESAN NORTH EAST LGA
The town hall meeting for this LGA was held in Assemblies of God church Isua, Uromi on the 26th of March 2018.
Present at the town hall meeting were 54 persons made up of 25 females and 29 males. The meeting was attended by many dignitaries from different parts of Esan North East LGA, representatives of NAPTIP and AWEG. Some of the expected participants couldn’t come for the meeting because the newly elected local government chairman had come to the region and they had gone to welcome him.
Rahmat Asemota gave information on migration and how to migrate. Joan Ojiewa of NAPTIP told participants about human trafficking, its components and consequences.
Question asked by one participant was “if a man in abject poverty sees an opportunity to travel and he has to pay the person money are you to reject the offer?” Joan Ojiewa responded to his question.
Mrs Maria John said a slang being used by most pastors and native doctor is “deliver”. The slang is used to ask if a person that is in Libya has crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. These pastors and native doctors usually call to ask if the person has delivered and any bystander will not understand what they are talking about. She explained that illegal migration outside Nigeria is seen as a norm in Esan land and she thanked GPI for the timely information brought to their community.
Participants were asked the causes of trafficking and they said;
SOLUTIONS TO HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Dorcas from AWEG advised that parents should not accept gifts from people that stay abroad because after some time they will tell you sweet stories and ask you to give them your daughter to take abroad as a way of helping your family. It’s time to be wise and not trade our daughters for riches which will not go down well.
Ituah Godfrey from Esan Central LGA Council said everybody has a share in the blame for human trafficking. He advised that farming is lucrative, rural dwellers should tap into farming for a good life. Everybody has to go back to the farm because farming is one way of curbing human trafficking. It is not in everything that we should wait for government.
Pastor Paul Okojie “Thank you for coming to teach. I commend GPI for what they are doing. Let everyone to develop themselves farming is good. We know that the government is not helping. When people develop themselves, they can help other people in life. I would advise GPI to have a write up of the messages taught. So that it could be distributed to participants for easier understanding and as a means to teach others not present at the meeting.”
Hon. Richard Ebegue – newly elected counsellor from the community in his contribution said “I appreciate GPI for giving my people orientation so that they will not be led astray. When children are raised in the fear of God, they obey their parents. Most children don’t assist their parents with farm work as such the parents don’t respond to the needs of the children. Some children don’t take the advice of their parents and they end up being miserable. I advise parents and children to love themselves.”
ESAN WEST LGA
On 27th March 2018 town hall meeting held at Abia Community Hall Iruekpen for Esan west LGA.
Present at the town hall meeting were 61 persons of which 28 were females and 33 were males. The meeting was attended by many people from different parts of Esan West LGA, also present are representatives of NAPTIP, NIS and AWEG.
Esohe Ebhakata from Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) told participants the requirements to procure an international passport and how not to travel outside Nigeria without an international passport as that would make such a person an illegal migrant and would be treated as a criminal when caught.
Questions asked by participants were;
How much does it cost to procure a passport? Esohe responded that an Officer is not at liberty to discuss the prices outside the agency.
Previously someone could do passport for his brother. Why has the government changed it that one must be physically present to do passport? Esohe said passports were previously done manually and some people could have up to 12 passports in different names. Hence the passports are now machine-readable passports with microchip. Once a person has a passport he or she cannot procure another in a different name.
There was screening of the NAWA festival films to participants.
May Ekido asked what the causes of human trafficking are and participants responded that the following are the causes;
The solutions they proffered include;
Advice from PMC members to participants include:
LGA council Rep. – some parents expect their children to provide for them and compare them with others this is very bad and put pressure on these children making them think of the fastest way out of poverty.
NIS Rep. – parents should support their children while they are in Nigeria. Some parents can afford #400,000 to give their child to cross the Mediterranean sea but will not give that child such an amount to start a business in Nigeria.
AWEG Rep. – some mothers push their children to travel just to belong. Parents should join hands together and train their children properly. Edionwele and elders should join their voice with the Oba to bring trafficking to an end.
NAPTIP rep. – help us tell others about human trafficking and illegal migration. Report cases when there are. Government, society, parents and youths all have their roles to play in ending human trafficking.