The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has appealed to the Oba of Benin, Ewuare II, to impress on Juju priests in the kingdom a no tolerance policy to administrating oaths on victims of human trafficking.
Head of Press, NAPTIP Mr Josiah Emerole, quotes the Director General, Ms. Julie Okah-Donli as making the appeal in a statement during an advocacy visit to Oba Ewuare II Ogidigan, in Benin City.
Ms. Julie stated that a partnership with the traditional institution in Edo, especially Benin Kingdom, to stem the tide of human trafficking in the state and Nigeria, in general, would be beneficial.
“We are doing our best in sensitising the juju priests against the practice and many have assured us that they will no longer administer oaths on the victims.
“However, we need to collaborate with a respected Royal Father in this land whose words are respected and honoured.
“I respectfully implore your Majesty to use your good offices to talk to these juju priests and the chiefs involved to stop the practice.
“You may wish to summon all of them and talk to them, and we are ready to join your Majesty to sensitise them on the effects of their actions on the helpless young people.
“Many of the young people that have left may never come back as they are dead and their parents are still hoping that they will come back some day with loads of money,
“While many have lost their minds as a result of the exploitation they have gone through.” she said.
Okah-Donli also urged the revered traditional rulers to bring the issue of human trafficking to the forefront within the circle’s of the traditional institutions across the country.
She said that the responsibility of the traditional institution was to protect the people they led and since every victim of human trafficking had come from a community before being a Nigerian they qualified for protection.
The traditional ruler commended NAPTIP on its activities over the years and stated his desire to fight the menace and loyalty to the agency.
“NAPTIP has been doing a very wonderful work in fighting human trafficking and everyone sees it and I know it is a difficult and challenging work but we are behind you.”
The Oba also warned practitioners of the terrible act to stay away from Benin as it brought more heartbreak than joy to the people.
Okah-Donli had earlier said that their investigation showed that some local witch doctors were part of the trafficking of people to Europe.
She said that a victim would be taken to a shrine to swear an oath of secrecy before a local Juju man, once their consent was gotten by fraud or coercion.
Some rituals required collecting the victim’s urine.
The victim’s pubic hair, finger nails, strands of eye lashes, menstrual blood, underwear, and other personal effects deemed necessary were also collected.
She added that such ritual was performed with a symbolic animal or bird, mostly a white cock or a white pigeon complemented with kola nuts.
She said that once all of these were done, it would be seen as bond between the victims and traffickers.