ABUJA, NIGERIA. On May 23, 2018, the Governor of Edo State, His Excellency, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, signed into law the Edo State Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Bill (2018) in Abuja. The new Act, which was approved by the Edo State House of Assembly in March (just shortly after the Oba of Benin’s pronouncement on March 9th), “provides an effective and comprehensive legal and institutional framework for the prohibition, prevention, detection, prosecution and punishment of human trafficking and related offenses in Edo State,” according to Governor Obaseki. It also officially creates the Edo State Taskforce Against Human Trafficking, which became functional in the State in August 2017.
It is safe to assume that the new law will repeal and replace the existing law on human trafficking in Edo State, which was enacted in 2000 (Criminal Code (Amendment) Law, 2000 (Section 223A)). However, from what has been reported in the media, its penalties appear to mirror those outlined in Nigeria’s current federal anti-trafficking law (Trafficking In Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administrative Act (2015)), which prescribes a minimum penalty of five (5) years imprisonment and fine of one million Naira for sex and labour trafficking offenses (minimum penalty in the case of a child increases to seven (7) years). We had hoped it would be stronger. That notwithstanding, we believe that the new law is a further step in the right direction for Edo State, since, if combined with effective advocacy and political will, should help to stem the scourge of human trafficking and irregular migration in the State. Our hope is that it places the protection of survivors at the helm since survivors are instrumental in ensuring successful prosecutions and in aiding targeted prevention efforts.
We will be providing additional updates on the law in the very near future. In the interim, to learn more about Nigeria’s current framework on human trafficking, please visit this link on our website: www.pathfindersji.org/nigeria-human-trafficking-legal-framework.
Congratulations, Edo State!