The Oba of Benin Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo Oba Ewuare II, has placed a curse on perpetrators of human trafficking and their collaborators including native doctors and priests who administer the oath of secrecy on victims.
The Oba placed the curse yesterday in Benin City while meeting with Enogie, Edionwere, and priests of different deities in Benin and native doctors at his palace.
Others, who attended the meeting, are senior and junior priests of Okhuaihe, senior and junior priests of Ovia, all priests in Iyekogba, all priests of Ake, all priestesses and native doctors as well as market women leaders.
He said the oath of secrecy administered on the victims has been encouraging the illegal trade called on all native doctors to shun the act and join hands with the palace to attract development and progress to the kingdom.
“It is reported that at the beginning the traffickers take their victims to native doctors to take an oath that they will not disclose the names of their traffickers and sponsors.
“Your power is to fight for the progress of Benin kingdom and not to be used for the destruction of our young people”.
He also invoked his power as the spiritual leader of Benin kingdom nullified all the oaths of secrecy administered on all victims of human trafficking and urged them to speak out and seek assistance.
While disclosing that statistics from relevant agencies reveal that most of those trafficked in Nigeria are from Benin, Oba Ewuare deplored the practice where gainfully employed artisans sell their working tools to pay their traffickers.
“We have some people gainfully employed as mechanics, welders, tailors, selling their working tools to pay traffickers to take them to Italy, Germany.
“Those, who traffic people to Italy, Germany and other countries first take them to Libya where they are enslaved”.
He urged the native doctors to tell all victims of human trafficking to speak out as all oaths of secrecy have been nullified.
“From today, we no longer want to hear of human trafficking in Benin. I hope those who have been involved in this illegal trade will stop from today.
“All native doctors who have administered the oath of secrecy on victims of human trafficking should also tell those they administered such oath on to speak out.
“Am appealing to all native doctors to stop administering such oaths on trafficked victims and all such oaths are hereby nullified.
“No native doctor should do any charm for any potential illegal migrant to cross the international border. Those who did it before now are forgiven and whoever does it from today will face the wrought of our ancestors”, the monarch warned.
Speaking with newsmen after the royal pronouncement, zonal commander, National Agency for the Prohibition in Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, Barrister Nduka Nwanwennee pointed out that the Oba’s intervention is a significant milestone in the war against human trafficking and illegal migration.
“Before now, victims of human trafficking rarely open up to give evidence in court because of they have taken. They are afraid and believe that the oath will have an effect on them as the native doctors who administered such oaths have their personal items like fingernails, pubic hair, menstrual pads, pants, photographs etc.
“Now that those oaths have been nullified by the monarch, our power of prosecution has been enhanced and we can now rescue more victims,” he said.