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20,000 trafficked Nigerians stranded in Mali – Edo NAPTIP Commander

Over 20,000 trafficked Nigerian youths, mostly girls, are currently stranded in Mali, the Edo State Zonal Commander, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Mr. Nduka Nwawene, disclosed, yesterday, on the occasion of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, in Benin, Edo State.

He lamented that Mali used to be a destination for so many trafficked persons from the Benin Zone, noting that Malians are now being trafficked to the Edo State capital.

“We just gathered intelligence that victims are now being trafficked from Mali to Benin City. We are currently investigating. Over 20,000 Nigerian young girls and boys, particularly girls, are currently stranded in Mali, which used to be a destination for so many trafficked victims from this command, but the Malians are now coming here.

“We have heard stories of Malian men who are ready to do whatever they can do to meet Nigerian girls, but now the reverse is the case. A victim had once confessed that they earned more money going to Mali”, Nwawenne added.

The zonal commander, who spoke after a road walk through some major roads in Benin, revealed that in the midst of the escalating trafficking issues, global, national responses, particularly in developing States, appeared to be deteriorating.

“Detection rates fell by 11% in 2020, and convictions plummeted by 27%, illustrating a worldwide slowdown in the criminal justice response to trafficking”, Nwawenne stated, and urged stakeholders to collaborate more in awareness raising and striving to promote community ownership of anti-human trafficking drives.

On his part, the Edo Chairperson, Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD), Ms Ann Ojugo, said the association would continue to partner NAPTIP in the fight against trafficking. She disclosed that more Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), were becoming victims of trafficking and exploitation, due to their specific nature of not having easy access to information.

“Most of the broadcast stations don’t use sign language interpreters to present issues of national interest, so if a deaf person is watching a programme on human trafficking, he or she cannot understand. People traffic PWDs from rural areas to the cities for exploitation. You see some of them in the motor parks begging for money. Some PWDs in Nigeria are promised greener pastures abroad, but they end up being duped and exploited,” Ojugo pointed out.

The event was organised by NAPTIP, Edo Command, in collaboration with the International Organisation for Migration, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other stakeholders.

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