The Journalist International Forum for Migration (JIFORM) said human trafficking had assumed a dangerous dimension such that the media must play a critical role in the fight against the menace.
The president, JIFORM, Mr Ajibola Abayomi, said this in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja.
Abayomi said the media as the fourth estate of the realm must lead the advocacy to enlightened the public to prevent cases of trafficking.
He called for more collaborations with the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and other international agencies to empower the Nigerian journalists through capacity building to deliver on quality reportage.
Abayomi urged the media to always dig deep into the causes of human trafficking through investigative journalism and work assiduously to orientate the public against the antics of the human traffickers.
He also said the media needed to be sensitive to tell the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and Smuggling of Migrants (SOM) stories with care devoid of damage, sensationalism, exaggeration, hate speech, stereotypes, and stick to the right terminologies.
According to him, journalists must be provoked to evoke the pains of the survivors by highlighting the challenges the trafficked victims face in the hands of their abusers to elicit reactions and get justice in return.
“Similarly, the media have a duty to sustain quality reportage with human face and should always keep it at the front burner, not just as journalists but as advocates against human trafficking.
“Human traffickers exploits our people for profit, violates their human rights. Traffickers are linked to criminal networks organising forced labour, domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, slavery, removal of organs or harvesting of human parts.
“All these are inimical to our progress as a nation,” he said.
The JIFORM president commended the NAPTIP Director General, Dr Fatima Waziri-Azi, who she described as prayer answered for the agency giving impact and promotion of anti-human trafficking activities.
He said, “the tasks ahead are enormous because human trafficking has assumed a dangerous dimension. All hands must be on deck to stop the menace at all costs.
“For every trafficked victim in Nigeria, a potential president, governor, professor of law, journalist, medical doctor, and others with great futures ahead of them are being delayed and destroyed. That we must not allow it to continue,” he said.
Abayomi added that journalists “must sustain the fight against human trafficking classified by the United Nations as the second largest crime network against humanity.
This he said was valued at 150 billion dollars and the third rated criminal act in Nigeria, according to the 2021 Trafficking Report of the US Department of State that placed the country on the Tier 2 watch List.
“Hence the need for the media to up the ante on public enlightenment to prevent the act, expose those behind the crime and call for various support for the victims through rehabilitation and reintegration.
“They are brothers and sisters, and they deserve another chance to live a better life. We cannot and must not live in self-denial.
“This is a call to duty for the Nigerian journalists and other stakeholders to salvage our country.
“The media must closely work with the NAPTIP to ensure that the ranking of Nigeria put at 32 out of 167 on human trafficking nations list is further reduced.
“Moreso that we are said to have one of the highest numbers of citizens being used as slaves totaling 1,386,000 around the world as stated in the US State Department report as well,” he said.
Abayomi said journalists must share the burden confirmed by the NAPTIP that the highest number of trafficked children in Nigeria were girls between the ages of 12-17.
He said the above submission further called for more proactive actions against the TIP and SOM by the media to save younger Nigerians.
“75 per cent of those who are being trafficked are trafficked across states, while 23 per cent are trafficked within states in the country.
“We need not to be told that human trafficking is a serious crime that must be handled with all seriousness by all of us,” he said.
The JIFORM president appreciated the federal government for its efforts in the fight against human trafficking.
He posited that the federal government, however, needed to know that volatile political environment, continued hike in tariffs, high cost of living, insecurity and joblessness were the direct drivers of migration giving room for human trafficking to thrive through the push factors.
“We must not allow the criminals to capitalise on the ignorance and poverty in the land to kill the joy of our people,” he said. (NAN)