By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora has urged State Governments to assist the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) in the rehabilitations victims of human trafficking that returned from Lebanon.
The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora, Tolulope Akande-Sadipe (APC-Oyo) made the call in Abuja while receiving 29 victims of human trafficking from Lebanon.
The returnees included Temitope Ariwolo, a 31 years old female Nigerian who was abused by her employers in Labanon and prevented from leaving the country and Peace Busari, who was offered for sale on Facebook for $1000 by a Lebanese, Wael Jerro.
Giving breakdown of the returnees, Akande-Sadipe said nine of the girls are from Oyo, three from Ondo, two from Delta, and one each from Ekiti, Ebonyi, Cross Rivers, Edo, Anambra while five are from Lagos.
Also speaking, the Director General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, (NAPTIP) Julie Okah-Donli said the Agency would profile the returnees after which it would go after the traffickers.
“We just have one person of interest right now that came from Lebanon which is temitope, we are going to rehabilitate her in shelter and empower her. She’s also going to be quarantined for two weeks, after 14 days we will now take her to the shelter and give her some support and counsel her because she’s traumatized. We have so many people ready to empower her.
“We can only start the job of arresting after we’ve profiled her properly and counseled her, then we get all the necessary information that will lead to the arrest of the perpetrators”, she noted.
She said the fight against human trafficking cannot be left for the Federal Government alone, stressing that the States and other stakeholders have roles to play.
“We call on state governors forward to support NAPTIP to ensure that the girls are properly rehabilitated. At the same time, let us make sure they are ambassadors against human trafficking to discourage other young girls from thinking that there are greener pastures over there when really there are not.
“There are more girls coming home, we need to come together as a nation put a stop to human trafficking.We need to come together as nation to provide for girls and stop them from traveling abroad in search for greener pastures”, the lawmaker added.
Addressing journalists earlier at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport when the returnees arrived Sadipe said,
House of Representatives has zero tolerance for human trafficking, the same way it has for rape.
She said: “The Speaker, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, he made a commitment to Nigerians that the life of every Nigerian is precious. It’s a day that Nigerians should celebrate as a nation, on this human trafficking, we made a commitment that the House of Representatives that we will say no to human trafficking, the same way we are saying no to rape.
“Today Temitope is back home, we really want to understand what happened back in Lebanon. We are hoping that this will be a sign to other young ladies who want to go abroad for greener pastures to ensure that the circumstances that they are going into are the expectations they have when they sign up with these agents”.
Arowolo who was full of emotions told journalists that Lebanon was like a hell for her and cautioned Nigerians girls never to embark on trips in search of greener pastures outside Nigeria.
“I’m happy being home. Going to Lebanon is like (going to) a hell. Nobody knows that will happen there. I advise other girls to stay here in Nigeria and try to make it the way the Lord puts them through, because going outside there was like hell, not only in Lebanon. What I experienced in Lebanon, I pray even not for Satan to experience it”, she said.
Also narrating her ordeal, one of the victims, Priscilla Chidibem who was on wheelchair said she was made to work all day under very sick condition, adding that as a result of the nature of her job, a fracture she once had in her waist started swelling.
“I cried day and night, I almost committed suicide twice but something stopped me, I remembered my mom. If I take my life, I do not think my mom will be able to survive it, I went through hell, I cannot explain, I was sick and was abused”, she said.
Some of the girls Newsmen gathered were working as a sex slaves in Lebanon.