Between hiring housemaid and child trafficking

Recently the Plateau State Police Command intercepted two trucks carrying 145 children from Bauchi, Gombe and Jigawa states.

According to a statement issued by the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the state, Terna Tyopev, the children, who are all male, were being taken to places unknown to even the coordinators of the movement.

The PPRO added that the children, aged between four to eight years, were to be shared to Plateau, Kaduna and Nasarawa states.

Tyopev said the police was liaising with the Plateau chapter of Jama’atul Nasril Islam and other critical stakeholders to establish contact with the two state governments for the return of the children to their parents.

The police said it would charge those behind the action to court to serve as a deterrent to others.

“This trend, if not checked, will cause embarrassment to Plateau, north central and the nation at large,” he said.

Also in a recent release posted on the website of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), the agency said that its operatives have commenced investigation into the alleged trafficking of about 67 children from the Northern part of the country by some persons in questionable circumstances.

The children, whose ages range between 10 and 14, were intercepted in three different operations by men of the Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Police at different locations around Nasarawa State.

According to the release, the first interception carried out by the Nigerian Army during a routine check on January 20, 2017, a total of 22 children were rescued from a suspected child trafficker along the Nasarawa-Abuja road. They were loaded inside a 7-seater Toyota Serena bus said to be heading to Nasarawa from Minna, Niger State.

“Preliminary information extracted from some of the shabbily-dressed children, most of who could neither speak nor understand English, revealed that they were allegedly recruited for an Islamic education mission in Nasarawa. Two persons suspected to be the recruiters were arrested. Also on January 26, 2017 another batch of 13 children and suspects were intercepted by the Police in Nassarawa State and handed over to NAPTIP for investigation.

Barely 72 hours after the interception, men of the Nigerian Police Force on routine patrol along the same Abuja–Nassarawa road, intercepted another 18-seater commercial bus loaded with 32 children of the same age bracket.

Investigation reveals that their mission and destination were the same. Two persons suspected to the recruiters were also arrested. All the 67 children are presently at the shelter of the Agency, awaiting the arrival of their parents who have been contacted as part of the investigation procedure.

Speaking on the incidents, Acting Director–General of the Agency, Mr. Abdulrazak Dangiri, expressed sadness over the development adding that it is a strange and disturbing phenomenon that requires attention of all Nigerians. He, however, warned parents against giving their children out under questionable situations.

While some of these children were lucky to have been rescued by the security personnel before being contracted out by their recruiters, others have been contracted out within and outside the country, without interception. Investigations reveal that while they are being used as domestic workers, hawkers, prostitutes and housemaids, their recruiters were being paid for their services.

Some of the people they are contracted to do not know much about their background. Also while some of them are allegedly hypnotised by their recruiters to extract absolute loyalty, many of them have integrated well with their bosses to the extent that they are virtually in charge of the households.

The questions that are begging for answers are; what is the legality or otherwise of their means of recruitment? Are the recruiters not engaging in human trafficking? Why has it become difficult for security agents to nip the practice in the bud? Why are people accepting the kids to live and work with them without running a check on their background? How has the development caused problems in the families and households? How has the practice trampled on the child’s rights? Are parents doing enough to tackle the menace?

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