● ‘Most trafficked persons didn’t know they’re being taken into prostitution’

● ‘Most trafficked persons didn’t know they’re being taken into prostitution’

Comrade Osita Osemene is founder/Executive Director, Patriotic Citizens Initiative, an organisation he registered in 2010 to create consciousness on the horrors of irregular migration by means of the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean. Himself a returnee, he tells Gboyega Alaka how he additionally helps to resettle returnees, trains them and helps them entry funds from the International Organisation for Migrants (IOM).


YOUR organisation, Patriotic Citizens Initiative, could be very energetic in the battle towards human trafficking; inform us about it.

Patriotic Citizens Initiative was born out of my very own private expertise. I as soon as launched into such journey in 2004; it was after I returned that I began the organisation primarily based on what I noticed, particularly how Nigerians have been being handled on transit. I noticed so much of individuals stranded at totally different transit cities in Niger, Libya…. I noticed how they have been buying and selling in individuals, the exploitation, torture; so after I finally discovered my approach again, I stated I needed to create critical consciousness, as a result of then, there have been no data. People have been completely unaware of what was happening. Some couldn’t get throughout as a result of their cash had been collected. Some had been bought; the girls particularly. What saved me was the proven fact that I didn’t go away as a nonentity. I used to be a graduate of Industrial Mathematics at the University of Benin, however I left as a consequence of the frustration of unemployment. I additionally acquired a visa however it was faux.

When precisely did you determine this organisation?

When I got here again, I needed to go into self-rehabilitation for one 12 months between 2005/2006. I even wrote a e book, ‘Chasing a mirage; my search for an oasis,’ to doc my expertise. Unofficially, we began in 2007 however acquired registered in 2010 by the Corporate Affairs Commission.

Your organisation is lead marketing consultant for International Organisation for Migration (IOM); you additionally work with them on return and re-integration of migrants and victims of trafficking. What does these entail?

Most of these individuals who come again have gone by means of so much and have to be supported. Fortunately, there may be a global fund to help them below the EU programme. So we offer them fundamental coaching on learn how to utilise the funds that will be given to them to start out up their life once more. We additionally help them by approach of psychosocial help. The fund additionally covers those that might not have shelter and comply with have a spot that they’ll keep, as a result of it’s not all people that returns that desires to return dwelling instantly. Even I needed to go keep in Sokoto for like a 12 months, slightly than go dwelling immediately – as a result of of the disgrace, stigmatisation and embarrassment. International funding has made provision to make them reintegrate faster into the society. By my estimation, we’ve educated about 25,000 returnees. These are the roles we play in between as companion with IOM.

Your organisation additionally creates consciousness.

Yes, we create so much of sensitisation, so much of consciousness, media advocacy and neighborhood sensitisation…. We have places of work in Lagos and Benin City. We goal mother and father and youths as a result of we came upon that typically, mother and father contribute by approach of strain to those individuals embarking on these journeys. We goal mother and father at the stage of church buildings and communities. We additionally go to colleges as a result of we believe that if kids are knowledgeable about this evil commerce in time and proven some of the hazard, they will have it of their thoughts, and even when they finally embark on such journey, it would not be as a result of of ignorance. So we’ve been offering so much of data, utilizing handbills and totally different different media to succeed in the individuals.

But it does seem to be we’re not using the proper channels, as it looks as if most individuals are nonetheless ignorant.

You are appropriate. But reaching out to a inhabitants of over 200million individuals requires so much of sources. You are going to be offering so much of flyers and using the varied mediums to succeed in out to individuals in phrases of sensitisation. Compare this to the quantity of individuals/organisation in the subject. How many journalists like you’ve gotten taken it upon themselves to carry out some of these struggling and hazard to the individuals? Do you know that till final December, some returnees nonetheless instructed me, ‘Sir, we didn’t know.’

How about using Radio/TV jingles?

We have accomplished that, however it’s not sustainable. If you do a radio jingle and it simply lasts for 2 months, what occurs to the different time of the 12 months and those that missed it? Meanwhile the traffickers and smugglers are watching you and re-strategising. They work tirelessly. How many occasions will we work? If I don’t have funds, as an illustration, I will not work.

How about working with the authorities ministries and businesses like NAPTIP?

NAPTIP is dealing with the identical problem. They are working primarily based on price range however how usually do they put stuff like that in authorities price range? Has the authorities taken it as a accountability? Is it a precedence? If it is prioritised, it might be put in the price range and possibly on each day foundation, there might be jingles. But for the traffickers and smugglers, that is what they feed on, that is the place they get the cash to purchase their vehicles and pay for his or her kids college charges; in order that they reinvent themselves on each day foundation. Even the worldwide donors, how usually do they launch cash for prevention? How usually does the Nigerian authorities launch funds? That is our predominant problem. So if we’ve a correct channel that gives funds frequently, like you’ve gotten in schooling, and we’re in a position to coordinate this consciousness with out break, then it turns into a life-style. Then we will minimise it to the barest minimal.

How about trusted organisations like yours making a proposal to worldwide donors on this regard?

We have made these suggestions however the problem we face is that when some of this stuff are to be carried out, they don’t use the proper individuals.  Some of us have been on floor even earlier than the introduction of funders, however so much of new organisations are cropping up, and once they get maintain of these funds, they will not acceptable it correctly. If you hear the quantity of cash that has been invested in reintegration in Nigeria, you will marvel. We’re at the moment engaged on a venture in Benin funded by ActionAid and the Catholic Church of Don Bosco; it’s a each day sensitisation and we’ve a staff that goes out daily to do sensitisation at totally different stage. We even have a jingle that performs on each FM in Benin. If it is repeatedly accomplished on different stations, not only one or two stations, and in the native languages, then it can develop into simpler.

How nicely are the state governments -Lagos and Edo, as an illustration, keying into it?

I can say that Edo State has to an awesome extent keyed into this marketing campaign. It’s on file that Edo State has the highest quantity of returnee migrants in Nigeria, adopted by Delta State. Edo State has keyed in successfully and are attempting to see areas the place they’ll work to cut back it. But it continues to be not sufficient. However Lagos State has but to key in. It is simply the businesses like NAPTIP, National Commission for Refugees, International Organisation for Migration, and some of us in the civil society organisation primarily based in Lagos which can be actually on high of the sport. Recently they arrange a job power on human trafficking; however we’re ready for it to be purposeful.

To what would you blame this entire human trafficking factor?

I might say management downside and loss of household values. We misplaced if all at the stage of governance and the second households started to see Europe as a method for higher residing. Before now, Europe was not widespread, till individuals started to make it widespread and individuals see it as a method of slave commerce and trafficking and promoting our ladies/ladies into intercourse slavery. Families additionally started to simply accept it as a norm. There is the have to make our surroundings enabling, in order that our individuals can kick towards such provide. If the nation is to an extent okay and individuals end college and get a job, even when it is not as much as their expectation; then households will start to see that they’ll fend for themselves. Parents are simply giving out their kids as a result of most occasions, they can’t afford each day survival.

You remind me of Eugenia, the 15-year-old woman in our function, (https://thenationonlineng.net/dark-torturous-tunnel-of-sex-slavery/, whose father knowingly or unknowingly bought out into intercourse slavery.

That woman suffered. Do you know I virtually locked up the father? Even whereas she was at our coaching, he saved pestering her for cash to purchase her analysis card. At some extent, he was virtually complicated her into utilizing the cash we have been going to offer her after the coaching to purchase him a automotive.

You not too long ago raised the alarm about mother and father from Osun conniving with smugglers to visitors their kids. Do you’ve gotten info to again it up?

Yes, there’s a case by which we’re investigating the trafficker. She is proposing to take one other batch in April, having simply returned from taking some 30 to 40 ladies to Libya. It was an uncle to the underage woman they have been about to take out that reported the case to me. He was kicking towards the father’s choice to ship her on the journey, however he was adamant. They often come with the line, ‘we just want to help her;’ however they’re placing somebody at risk. So he referred to as me to see how we might arrest the scenario. Already, I’ve some voice recording of the girl trafficker, I instructed the uncle to play alongside and promote them a dummy that I’ve like three ladies to offer them. That is the solely approach you may get them to return out.

It’s a bit painful to see Nigerian ladies being trafficked to prostitute in smaller nations like Senegal, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire; what occurred to the Nigerian satisfaction?

This is a commerce and it is determined by demand. There are some individuals who particularly demand for Nigerian ladies. These traffickers are entrepreneurs and if they’ve the specification, they provide. From what we know, most of them who ended up in these nations didn’t know they have been going to finish up in such nations.

We don’t hear a lot about arrests and prosecution of these madams; is there a form of conspiracy?

The crime is so organised that you could time period it a excessive profile. Most occasions, the people who find themselves being arrested are not the finish individuals. The reality is that NAPTIP is doing so much of prosecution and they’ve jailed some persons, however sadly, it is on the enhance. Because of the peculiarities of the commerce, whilst you’re arresting the brokers, the predominant set hold recruiting new employees. Unlike an armed theft gang, which you’ll be able to simply burst and finish, the trafficking syndicate is extra refined as a result of totally different individuals are concerned at totally different levels. That is why I used to be recommending a correct coordination amongst the safety businesses and stakeholders.

Is it all the returnees that you just give funds?

Yes, all of them get funds though there are totally different classes. We have individuals with particular instances like Eugenia.

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