– Iduozee Efe Paul, Benin correspondent
The commissioner for Justice and the Attorney General of Edo State,Prof. Yinka Omorogbe, has disclosed that so far, the Edo State taskforce has received into its scheme, a total of 4,943 (3329 males,1400 females and 214 children).
She lamented that the state is the most affected by the problem of human trafficking in Nigeria having over 50 per cent of the recorded cases.
The commissioner who, made the disclosures at a press conference on the activities of the taskforce to combat human trafficking marking the two year anniversary of the agency in the state, said the taskforce has been given a mandate by Governor Godwin Obaseki to reduce human trafficking in the state.
Prof Omoroge who is the chairperson of the Edo State Taskforce Against Human Trafficking said before the agency came out with its plans, it engaged in various programme which included advocacy, investigation, prosecution, research and the rehabilitation of returnee migrants.
“The taskforce currently has 4943 returnees (3329 males, 1400 females and 214 children) under its returnees programme, all of whom upon arrival in Lagos were transported to Benin. They were housed for a minimum of two nights, given food, toiletries, basic medical and counseling support.
“Over 2,500 have received stipend payment and over 500 have been trained in various vocations including, welding, tailoring, cosmetology, etc.Several of these returnees have received long term sheltering , financial support, schooling, and extensive medical support. ”
“The taskforce has continued to carry out its numerous activities, which include welcome program of returnees as highlighted above, vigorous advocacy and awareness raising programs , sensitizing the public on the ills and problems of human trafficking, which involved going around the different local government areas of the state, investigation and prosecution of offenders.”
Commenting on how modern systems were designed to identify beneficiaries, she stated:”With the large number of returnees who came into Edo State, it became imperative that modern systems were employed to uniquely identify beneficiaries of the government’s scheme to capture and cater for the special needs of returnees also referred to as ‘GO-GETTER’ with the aim of re-integrating them back into the society they had left without stigmatization.
“GO-GETTERS database deployed on a designated server”, she explained,,“provides a means to authenticate all individuals via special cards that would confirm the identity of the GO-GETTERS from the database on physical presentation and to officials of government easily” and, “to avoid public duplication because of its security implications, the cards have a secured water mark and smart guard.”
Prof. Omorogbe commended the Edo State government for the support to the agency.
In his remarks, the state NUJ chairman, omrade Roland Osakwe, assured the taskforce chairperson that the media will give wide publicity to the report and thanked her for coming.