NAPTIP engages witch doctors to fight human trafficking in Edo

NAPTIP DG Julie Okah-Donli
NAPTIP DG, Julie Okah-Donli

The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) says it has engaged some local witch doctors in Benin, Edo, as ambassadors to fight human trafficking in the country.

Director-General of NAPTIP, Julie Okah-Donli, disclosed this at a symposium and training organised for officers of the agency in conjunction with Conference of Western Attorneys General and the Africa Alliance in Abuja on Monday.

Edo state has the highest number of traffickers and victims of human trafficking in the country, she noted.

Ms Okah-Donli explained that the agency’s investigation had confirmed that some local witch doctors were involved or used in the trafficking of persons to Europe.

She said that in the process of human trafficking, once a victim’s consent was gotten by means of force, fraud or coercion, such person will be taken to a shrine to swear to an oath of secrecy and allegiance before a local witch doctor.

According to her, during that process, some rituals will be performed on the victims where the potential victim’s urine will be taken.

The director-general disclosed that the victim’s pubic hair, fingernails, strands of eyelashes, menstrual blood, underwear and other personal effects deemed necessary were also collected.

She added that such ritual was performed with a symbolic animal or bird, mostly a white cock or a white pigeon complemented with cola nuts.

She said that once all of these were done, it would be seen as bond between the victims and traffickers.

Okah-Donli explained that the ritual was also depicted as having some sort of lucky charm for the victims, if she abides by the terms, otherwise the victims stand to face grave consequences.

“In spite of the rituals and oath taking, the victim reaches the destination point only to realise the farce behind the earlier sweet promises of a greener pasture.

“And in this circumstance, such person is told in strict terms not to renege on the oath of secrecy as it cannot be reversed.

“At this point, the victim is left with a resigned fate of horrible demands of the trafficker for fear of being victimised which is rather unfortunate.

“When we gathered these witch doctors recently to sensitise them on what these victims go through in Europe, they were shocked.

“To them, the native doctors, they are working for the madams who want to traffic the victims

“And they have made their commitments to work with us to fight the menace of human trafficking,” she said.

The director-general pledged to involve or sensitise more witch doctors in Benin and other parts of the country and make them ambassadors of NAPTIP to fight human trafficking.

She said that the agency was more committed and determined than ever to defeat the scourge of trafficking in persons.