The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons has appealed to the Oba of Benin, Ewuare II, to prevail on Juju priests in the kingdom to stop administrating oaths on victims of human trafficking.
Josiah Emerole, Head of Press, NAPTIP, quotes the Director General, Julie Okah-Donli as making the appeal in a statement during an advocacy visit to Oba Ewuare II, Ogidigan, in Benin City.
The NAPTIP boss said that there was need to partner with the traditional institution in Edo, especially Benin Kingdom, to stem the tide of human trafficking in the state and Nigeria in general.
Okah-Donli said: “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.’’
Okah-Donli also urged the revered traditional rulers to bring the issue of human trafficking to the front burner within the fold of the traditional institutions across the country.
She said that every victim of human trafficking had come from a community before being a Nigerian and one of the responsibilities of the traditional institution apart from upholding the culture and tradition of the land was to protect and defend the people that they led.
In his response, the traditional ruler commended NAPTIP on its activities over the years and declared his commitment to fight the menace and support the agency.
She said: “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 perpetrators of the heinous act to stay away from Benin as the trade had brought more sorrow than joy to the people.
The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that Okah-Donli had earlier stated that their investigation indicated that some local witch doctors were involved in the trafficking of persons to Europe.
She said that in the process of human trafficking, once a victim’s consent was gotten by fraud or coercion, such person would be taken to a shrine to swear to an oath of secrecy and allegiance before a local Juju man.
According to her, during that process, some rituals will be performed on the victims where the potential victim’s urine will be taken.
The D-G said that 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 cola nuts.
She said that once all of these were done, it would be seen as bond between the victims and traffickers.