Director General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Dame Julie Okah – Donli, has alerted the nation and the entire Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament of the imminent xenophobic attack on Nigeria victims of human trafficking trapped in the mining region of Mali.
The development came on the heel of the resolution by the ECOWAS parliament to visit the controversial mining region of Mali where thousands of Nigerians victims of human trafficking are being held in sex slavery and exploitation in order to ensure their freedom.
The NAPTIP Director General raised the alarm on the floor of the ECOWAS Parliament while briefing members on the report of the fact-finding team that visited the North African Country to assess the human trafficking situation and work out the modality of evacuating the stranded victims.
It would be recalled that NAPTIP’s fact-finding team led by the Director General had visited Mali early this year and came back with heart-breaking report on the level of the exploitation of human trafficking victims in Mali.
Apparently disturbed by the ugly development, the Parliament had invited the NAPTIP boss to brief members on the situation so as to enable the Parliament take action.
In her presentation, Dame Julie Okah – Donli, said “The scourge of human trafficking is a clear and present danger that threatens human and national security of member States.
“Honourable Speaker, unfortunately, many of these victims are first incubated in sex and labour camps in various member States of ECOWAS. The fact-finding mission and my own visit to Mali in December 2018 and March 2019 respectively, painted a very gory picture of the situation of possibly hundreds of thousands of victims of sex trafficking within the sub-region. Nigerian girls are trafficked mainly to the mining areas in the south and Central parts of Mali, but substantial number is trafficked to rebel-held areas in the North, where they become radicalised.
“Nigerian girls are treated as slaves, and less than second-class citizens by some of the Malians and Law Enforcement Agencies. Most of the madams force the victims to sleep with numerous men without using any protection, hence the high incidences of sexually transmitted diseases and other ailments among the victim-community.
“The Malian authorities collect ‘taxes’ from the victims on a weekly basis, and sell condoms and other medications compulsorily to the victims every month. Malian women are already grumbling that Nigerian girls are taking their men, and there are fears of imminent xenophobic attacks.
“One of the conclusions from the visits is the need for a regional approach to addressing the problem through legislative reviews and deliberate actions by the ECOWAS Parliament and the ECOWAS Commission”, the NAPTIP Director General said.
In his response, the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Honourable Moustapher Cisse Lo, described the situation as heart rendering matter that requires urgent action from member States in order to quickly save them.