AS the world celebrates the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, Nigeria still has the highest figure for modern slavery in Africa.
According to the Global Slavery Index (GSI) 2018, the population of the people in slavery in Nigeria is 1,384,000, more than the total number of all the other 16 West Africa countries when added together, which is 1,081,000.
August 23 of every year has been set aside by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), to mark the international day for the remembrance of the slave trade and its abolition.
The 2018 GSI shows that seven out of 1000 Nigeria Citizens live in Modern Slavery while the vulnerability of Nigerians to Modern Slavery is 74 out of 100 people.
Data from the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) shows that the employment of children as domestic workers, as well as the procurement of persons for sexual exploitation and forced labour, are some of the numerous examples of modern day slavery in Nigeria. The Director-General of NAPTIP, Dame Julie Okah-Donli, in a phone interview with The ICIR, said that ignorance and misconceptions lead many Nigerians to seek greener pasture where it does not exist.
When asked what strategy NAPTIP was adopting to bring down the number of modern slavery in Nigeria, Okah-Donli said: “awareness campaigns are being done in the rural communities where most victims were taking from”.
“We are doing awareness for the youths, parents in communities, particularly, the area where victims come from as a result of ignorance and lack of education,” she said.
The NAPTIP DG urged Nigerians to report any case of slavery to the Agency via: firstname.lastname@example.org , or call the following numbers:+234 703 0000 203, O8002255627847 (Toll-free number). She also said that the NAPTIP mobile application which can be downloaded on the google play store.
Similarly, the Executive Director of Devatop Centre for African Development, Joseph Osuigwe, explained in an interview with The ICIR on Thursday, that Modern Slavery is in different irksome ways. He said, “slavery which was abolished centuries past did not end but rather changing forms, and these forms of slavery are tagged modern slavery.
“Exploitation of people is common in Nigeria. Most are denied freedom of expression, movement and incurring mental and physical abuse to others, especially to the vulnerable people.”
Osuigwe said that having housemaids is not a crime but the ways they are being treated is the crime. “Most people in Nigeria have ‘house slaves’ not housemaids.”
He related an experience of a young girl of 13 who was promised good care by her aunt before she was taken from her mother to Abuja. She ended up being used as a house slave and a babysitter for a banker; thus denied her the opportunity of going to school, and did not even paid her dues, because the aunt was the one collecting the payment.
“Slavery is still happening in Nigeria. People need to be advised that whatever they see, they need to report,” Osuigwe said.
On the government part, he recommended a social protection programme for the indigents so as to reduce the vulnerability of people to cases of modern slavery.