The European Union regards human trafficking as one of the most heinous violations against human rights. Efforts to address this complex issue have been a primary focus for EU strategies on national and international levels.
Among other findings in a country-by-country statistical analysis on human trafficking in the period of 2010-2012, Eurostat reported in 2015 that 80% of the registered victims were female, more than 1,000 children were trafficked, and over 70% of traffickers were male. It should be noted that not all 28 EU Member States were able to provide data, and the statistics are based on the small amount of information available from registered sources. As a result, there is certainly more that goes on undocumented.
However, one particular finding noted that among non-EU states, Nigeria was over-represented
in both the statistics of both victims and traffickers. In the 3-year course of the study, it was found that of the registered victims with non-EU citizenships, there were 1,322 registered victims from Nigeria, as compared to the next highest non-EU state, Brazil, with 537 registered victims. The most frequently reported non-EU citizenship of suspected traffickers over the course of the reference period was also Nigeria, with 299 individuals.
The International Response
The U.S. Department of State has classified Nigeria’s human trafficking narrative as Tier 2: Watchlist on a scale of 1-3 in their 2017 human trafficking report. This means that the government of Nigeria does not fully meet the minimum standards for elimination of trafficking. There are challenges present where some elements of Nigerian Security Forces (NSF) were found to have used children as young as 12 in support roles, and the Nigerian military conducted on-the-ground coordination with the CJTF, which includes non-governmental militias that recruit and use children in support roles, and possibly unwillingly. Furthermore, government officials were found to be involved in sexual exploitation of Borno State women and girls that were displaced by Boko Haram.
That said, Nigeria is making a significant effort to improve. Efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers in Nigeria are remarkable, as well as conducting anti-trafficking training for law enforcement officials, however the growth is slow-going, with limited increases in efforts compared to the previous reporting period.
Picture 1. NAPTIP & Finland sign MoU to collaborate in curbing trafficking in 2017 (Accessed March 2018)
One such anti-trafficking organization in Nigeria is the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), which recently made headlines when Europol put out a statement detailing how Spanish police forces in cooperation with NAPTIP and UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) dismantled a Nigerian organized crime ring that had trafficked victims to Europe through Libya and Italy. Among their efforts was a block on bank accounts that laundered more than 300k euros for the crime ring, leading to 89 arrests and the liberation of 39 victims.
The crime network was found to be connected to the Eiye Confraternity (Air Lords), one the most influential campus cult originated gangs in Nigeria. It operates in clandestine groups worldwide, funding the confraternity in Nigeria through both legal and illegal activities.
Campus Cults in Nigeria
Campus cults represent a widespread gang and organized crime problem in Nigeria, as many post-secondary institutions have confraternities. The majority of these cult groups are involved in organized crime. Recruitment is sometimes involuntary, and the initiation rites involve assault to varying degrees. Some of the cults operate their business with a secret membership model and some of them dominate streets openly. At peak, tens of murders have been connected monthly to confraternity related violence. The Nigerian democracy is relative new, and amongst the former and current cult members are local politicians and other influential members of society. According to some sources, politicians have been known to have used the gangs as their private armies, and the cults have had active roles in the nation’s internal conflicts.
The Eiye Confraternity is very active in social media, utilizing it to give voice to their opinions and in fact openly using platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp for coordination purposes.
Picture 2. Screenshot of a FB page voicing support for EIYE confraternity (Accessed Mar 2018)
Global Business Response
To address the crime of human trafficking, companies have been complementing their due diligence processes with human rights impact assessments and taking relevant related risks in consideration for their existing assessments and processes. This is typically done in compliance with international guidelines such as the United Nations’ Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights via implementing the “Protect, Respect, and Remedy” Framework. However, new national-level legislations, such as the French Corporate Duty of Vigilance Law, are starting to make human rights duty of care a mandatory compliance for global supply chains. With regard to the issue at hand, global enterprises will be duty-bound to do whatever is in their power to ensure their supply chain isn’t exploited for human trafficking purposes.
This article was written by Investigator Oskar Savolainen and Content Supervisor Kristina Weber of Centry Global. For any questions or comments on the above material, please feel free to contact us @CentryLTD on Twitter or on any of our other social media platforms!