Human Trafficking is as old as humanity; it is an ugly fact of our society that is prevalent even today in our country, Nigeria, and indeed, in our metropolitan city of Ibadan. Slavery has haunted humankind throughout history, and over 200 years after it was legally abolished, slavery continues to flourish across the world in the form of modern slavery. It is difficult to imagine that in our free and democratic country, tens of thousands of human beings are deprived of their liberty, exploited and traded as commodities for profit. Of recent, quite a number of Migrant Nigerians are being deported from Libya and other countries to Nigeria. For instance, on May 30th and 31st of 2018, 186 Nigerians were deported from Libya (cf. Maureen Ihua-Maduenyi, Punch, June 02, 2018, p. 7).

Human Trafficking is a multi-billion business and is the third fastest growing business of organised crime after Arms Indusry and Drug Industry. Research shows that many people pass through Nigeria border towns of Seme in Lagos State, Shaki in Oyo State, Gamboron Ngella in Borno State, Illela in Sokoto State, the  creeks  of  Calabar in  Cross River  State  and Oron in Akwa Ibom State every day to either serve as Domestic Servants, Sex Workers and Labourers in Republic of Benin, Ghana, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Burkina Faso, Mali, Libya, Algeria, Morocco and in European countries.

The trend of trafficking in persons is alarming. All countries are involved in one form of Human Trafficking or another, either as Source, Transit or Destination. Sadly, Nigeria is a source, Transit and Destination country. Persons are Trafficked both within and outside Nigeria; and Internal Trafficking can also be a prelude to External Trafficking.

Internal trafficking occurs within a nation's borders. Victims involved are moved from less developed to more developed part of the country predominantly for domestic labour, apprenticeship, hawking, begging and prostitution. Boys are trafficked for forced labour in street vending, domestic service, mining, stone quarrying, agriculture, textile manufacturing, and begging. Moreover, poverty, greed and peer pressure, unequal areas to education, unemployment, breakdown of family values, lack of education or ignorance, gender and economic discrimination are part and parcel of the causes of Human Trafficking. Violence and conflicts remain to be part of the push factors which result in trafficking. The pull factors include growing sex markets in developed countries such as Europe, Asian  and America and urban areas. Demand for cheap  migrant  labour, growing appetites for pornography, low risk, high  and  easy profits, ease in controlling vulnerable victims are part of the pull factors.

In Oyo State, despite the current action of stakeholders of Justice, Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) to tackling the menace of Human Trafficking, the number of victims of this crime against humanity is still evidently high. The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Oyo State Command, the Customs Officers and the Police will have more information on all this. It is worth noting that many of the victims are children and women who are trafficked because of their vulnerabilities. There are very very young children being taken away from their parents under the pretext that the traffickers would get jobs for them or give them a better standard of living. Many of them are brought into Nigeria from Benin Republic, Togo and other neighbouring countries. They are sold into slavery by those who brought them into the country.

Similarly, it is common in Ibadan that victims of trafficking, especially children are trafficked internally from rural or less developed areas of the country to the city for different forms of exploitation. Some of them serving as house-help are exploited sexually and this often goes unreported according to a report.

The effects of Human Trafficking are numerous, enormous and far-reaching. Trafficking affects at least seven million lives each year worldwide. Victims are subjected to depression, shame, fear, distrust, lack of medical attention, drug addiction, poor living condition, improper supply of meals and lack of nutritious food amongst others. As credible Christians, we are to fight against Human Trafficking; this is our duty, this is our responsibility. We are called to be the voice of the voiceless; prophets of our time!

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