BENIN CITY- EDO STATE- The Edo State Taskforce Against Human Trafficking (ETAHT), which was inaugurated on August 15, 2017 by the Governor of Edo State, H.E. Godwin Obaseki, to combat human trafficking in the State, is wrapping up its four-year tenure this month (August 2021). To mark the occasion, its chairperson, Professor Yinka Omorogbe, held a stakeholders’ meeting on August 11, 2021, at which time the ETAHT released a summary report highlighting its successes, challenges and opportunities. Stakeholders were also invited to share their experiences and recommendations to chart a way forward.
The successes highlighted by the ETAHT included:
- Enactment of Edo State Trafficking in Persons Prohibition law on May, 23, 2018.
- Between August, 2017 and May 2021, ETATH received and welcomed 5,194 returnees (3,427 males, 1,520 females and 247 children) in 70 batches, most of whom traveled overland to Libya.
- Provision of psychosocial support to over 5,000 beneficiaries.
- Provision of full and continuous medical support to returnees and other survivors of violence.
- Organization of various vocational training programs for all repatriated returnees.
- Provision of both short and long term shelter for all returnees.
- Referral of over 2,000 returnees to partners to be trained and empowered.
- Provision of startup funds for over 600 returnees on completion of their vocational skills training.
- Setting up a legal hub, in conjunction with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Edo State Ministry of Justice, to provide legal services to survivors of human trafficking.
- The ETAHT received a total of 125 cases for investigation and prosecution during their tenure: 20% (25 cases) have been charged to court, 4% (5 cases) are ready for arraignment, 9.6% (12 cases) were transferred to other agencies, 28% (35 cases) remain under investigation, while 36 suspects have been arrested.
- Raiding and shutting down of orphanage homes engaging in illegal adoption/sales of babies.
- Release of two major research works, namely: Examining the Root Causes of Human Trafficking in Edo State and A Perception Study to assist, monitor and evaluate the work of the ETAHT.
- Conducting advocacy programs in different forms and locations within Edo State to help change the community’s orientation about human trafficking and unsafe migration.
- Providing communities with information and skills that enable them identify traffickers.
- Building a world class shelter with the capacity to house at least 100 survivors of human trafficking, sexual and gender based violence, as well as other forms of abuse.
It is undisputed that under the leadership of Professor Omorogbe the efforts of the ETAHT served to reduce the exceptionally high figures for human trafficking originating from Edo State. These efforts have been acknowledged in data from the European Union and in the US State Department’s 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report.
It is noteworthy that the successes recorded by the ETAHT have inspired Delta, Ondo and Lagos States to set up their own taskforces to combat human trafficking, headed by their respective Attorneys Generals.
Pathfinders congratulates the ETAHT on its efforts!