As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to observe the International Day of Remembrance of Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade (IDRSVTST), the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu Esq has said that this day serves as a reminder that though slave trade might have been abolished, there are other related forms of modern-day slavery that inhibit the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Nigeria.
The vocal human rights lawyer and CEO of the Commission, who cautioned the perpetrators of the dastardly act of all forms of slavery to desist from the uncivilized practice, stated this in Abuja on the eve of the commemoration of the day.
He said human trafficking; (an act of recruitment and transportation of persons (both male and female) within or across borders of this country) is the fastest-growing form of slavery in Nigeria today, adding that the effects have continued to disorientate our social and mental well- being as a nation.
The Executive Secretary stated that “apart from human trafficking in all its ramifications, we are also confronted with, ethnicity in this modern times”. He further said, “these are discriminations based on the perception that a certain group of people are different and superior to others and this results in a kind of treatment or attitude that makes the disadvantaged group feel inferior or persecuted just like persons who were captured and sold as slaves between the 16th and 17th century”.
The Chief Human Rights Officer said, “these persistent inequalities in the enjoyment of basic human rights are not only wrong but are a major cause of social upheaval and conflict in our society”.
While speaking to this year’s theme “Ending Slavery legacy of Racism: A global imperative to Justice,” which aims to raise awareness on the dangers of racism, Ojukwu emphasized that racist behavior which often translates to discrimination has obvious negative consequences, from simple neglect, or the avoidance of those believed to be different and inferior, to more explicit forms of harassment, mistreatment exploitation, or exclusion to more extreme cases of threat to life and death.
Sadly, Ojukwu noted that incidentally there have been reported cases of Nigerians facing racial discrimination and being maltreated in China, South Africa, and other places across the globe. “And back home in Nigeria we have active discrimination by people who consider themselves as original inhabitants of their region against settlers from other states, (Indigene and non-indigene syndrome)” he added.
Also, there are people who consider themselves more superior by virtue of their authority, where they mobilise force against vulnerable persons. There are also numerous allegations of discrimination perpetuated by the Osu and other caste systems in several parts of Nigeria, these all lead to inter-ethnic, inter-communal, and inter-religious violence and conflict , Ojukwu noted.
The human rights Czar who has tirelessly been working round the clock to advance the course of women’s rights in Nigeria observed that although men are also victims of slavery, children and women have been the most at-risk populations. As victims in the terrorist dens, girls and women suffer as economic-slaves, sex-slaves, and suicide-mission-slaves. In the baby factories, they serve as economic-slaves, sex-slaves, procreation-slaves, and money-ritual-slaves.
He said all hands must be on deck to put an end to all forms of slavery because they are inimical to freedom in the civilized world.
Fatimah Agwai Mohammed.