HUMAN TRAFFICKING: UN team arrives Benin, backs Obaseki’s fight

The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki’s efforts at curbing the incidence of human trafficking and irregular migration have received renewed backing from the United Nations, as international support swells to halt activities of human traffickers and their associates.

Welcoming the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur, Ms. Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, in Benin City, the governor, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Chief Taiwo Akerele, said the state government has implemented several initiatives to curb the menace, including the implementation of the law establishing the Edo State Taskforce Against Human Trafficking.

He noted, “We are doing our best to open up the system so that certain practices that undermine the participation of women in politics and governance are completely eliminated to enable social inclusion of women in politics, governance and development in the state.”

Obaseki said his administration is partnering with traditional institutions to ensure the elimination of traditional practices, which undermine the roles of women in the society.

UN Special Rapporteur, Ms. Giammarinaro said she was in Nigeria and in Edo State to assess the incidence of human trafficking and irregular migration and report back to the UN Human Rights Council and the General Assembly, with recommendation.

R-L: Attorney General/Commissioner for Justice and Chairman, Edo State Taskforce Against Human Trafficking, Prof. Yinka Omorogbe; representative of Edo State Governor and Chief of Staff, Chief Taiwo Akerele; United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro; and other members of the UN team: Ms. Alice Dieci and Ms. Federica Donati, at the Government House, in Benin City, Edo State.

Giammarinaro noted that the important aspect of her mandate is to drum support for significant improvement of international collaboration in the areas of investigation, prosecution of traffickers; protection and promotion of rights; survival of victims of human trafficking as well as persons vulnerable to the scourge.
She said the UN is aware of the plight of Nigerians who travel through Libya and are subjected to all forms of exploitation, adding, “We have to act in the area of prevention and give youth hope of a bright future.”

Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General of the state, who also doubles as chairperson, Edo State Taskforce Against Human Trafficking, Prof. Yinka Omorogbe, explained that the taskforce which is over a year old, has received 35 batches of returnees with 4,000 persons since it commenced work.

Prof. Omorogbe said the taskforce has continued to sustain advocacy and sensitisation through which the taskforce intends to drastically curb or eradicate the scourge.

She explained that the collaboration between the Oba of Benin and the state government has helped tremendously to check the scourge.

The Attorney General listed some of the challenges faced by the taskforce as “logistics and capacity, weak institutions as well as insufficient international assistance and collaboration” amongst others.

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