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Fact emerging from an investigative report conducted by Daily Trust 13 February 2015; with support of Ford Foundation reveals an inhumane, illegal, and exploitative trend of rape and child trafficking in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps, especially in North East Nigeria; mostly ravaged by the 5-year Boko Haram insurgency. And what’s more heart-rending is the fact that the evil is being perpetrated by some mindless individuals in consort with camp officials; under the very nose of regulatory agencies feigning ignorance.

According to the report, child trafficking is a thriving well run racket in most of the camps where hundreds of boys and girls have been traded off to interested people at N10, 000 – 100,000 depending on the negotiation done by the middlemen. Now, unregistered IDPs are most vulnerable to the acts because their stay and security in the camp cannot be guaranteed. Thus, most of them would jump at the slightest opportunity to get the bare basic necessities of life which could be bait and ploy to get them trafficked. Usually, they are given out as domestic helpers; unmindful of the fact that they are in fact being sold as a chattel. And many of the girls get forcefully ravished and raped in the process by their supposed care-givers; even by male camp officials. Faced with such helplessness and hopelessness, the victims embrace silence for fear of painful reprisal; knowing that the prosecutors are the perpetrators.

However, it is crucial at this juncture to ask: where are the regulatory agencies saddled with the responsibility of catering to the IDPs and fighting child trafficking? What are they doing to combat this ugly face of primitive and barbaric practices? Sadly, from what we gleaned from the report, the agencies are dozing on their official duties. For example, the National Commission of Refugees, the agency empowered by the law to be in charge of displaced persons was found visibly absent in the IDPs camps visited in Borno and Gombe states. Also, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons & Other Related Matters (NAPTIP) gives a crippled excuse of being “unaware” of the inhumanity and illegality going on in the camps. Even the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Police and Governments of affected states all throw their hands up in ignorance of the criminality perpetrated under their umbrella. Nothing can be farther from gross dereliction of duties.

In sum, the dehumanizing circle of child trafficking and rape burning in IDPs camps is a direct fall-out of the insurgency in North-Eastern Nigeria; exploited by mean individuals, aided by camp officials; and encouraged by the gross abdication of duties by regulatory agencies. The way out is for the axe of sanction to fall on guilty persons and agencies. More so, there’s a pressing need for proper documentation and registration of displaced persons in order to aid care-giving measures. Yes, these persons may be displaced, but they are still Nigerians and humans and thus deserve a dignifying life.

………Elvis-Wura Towolawi

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