The Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) Bayelsa State chapter, has raised the alarm over the presence of Child Trafficking Syndicate in the state.
This is coming on the heels of the alleged trafficking of sixteen-year-old-girl, Miss Blessing Ayuba by one Mr. Okechukwu Nwokafor from their Azikoro village residence in Yenagoa to Onitsha, Anambra State in August, 2021, from where she was taken to Libya, alongside three other girls.
The syndicate specialises in luring unsuspecting teenagers to Europe and other countries under the guise of providing greener pastures for them.
Nwokafor was arrested and after investigation, handed over to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Bayelsa State command.
Chairperson NAWOJ, Mrs Maria Olodi-Osumah and Secretary, Grace Koinyan said, “It is regrettable that six months after, NAPTIP Bayelsa State has not made any tangible progress to prosecute the culprit and bring back the child from Libya. Instead, Mr.Okechukwu Nwokafor was granted bail and is now at large.
“It may not be out of place to conclude that NAPTIP is handling the issue of Child Trafficking with kids glove, a signal that it is either incompetent or delibrately neglecting its responsibilities of steming the societal menace of Human Trafficking.
“NAWOJ Bayelsa is convinced that many other teenagers are being trafficked out of Bayelsa to countries in Europe without trace and more would be victims if proactive measures are not deployed.
“This is a very disturbing trend, as prior to this time, Bayelsa State was not listed amongst States with high Human Trafficking activity.
“However, with the recent disappearance of underaged girls, Bayelsa seems to be recording increased cases of Child Trafficking. Child Trafficking is a crime against humanity.
“This is a call for extreme vigilance by Parents, Guardians and Security Agents to take proactive measures to nip this ugly act in the bud”.
While appreciating the peaceful disposition of all non indigenes in the state, NAWOJ appeal to the Igbo community in the state to, as a matter of urgency scrutinise the activities of its people with a view to assisting agencies fish out bad elements amongst them and maintain the existing cordial relationship between the Igbos and Bayelsans.
“Anyone who is not in Bayelsa State to do legitimate business, relocate in your own interest as Child Trafficking is not part of legitimate business venture. It’s sad and painful that defenseless Children who ought to be protected are targets of inhumane treatment.
“We are therefore calling for the rearrest of Mr.Okechukwu Nwokafor by NAPTIP, Bayelsa Command,the Benin Zonal Command to take over the case and intensify efforts aimed at reuniting Queen Ayuba with her family”.