1.1 Background to the Study
Trafficking of children is synonymous with exploitation child labour. By definition, child trafficking involves agents for the illegal movement of human beings for illicit commercial and business dealings. Based on current knowledge (Out, 2003), Nigeria is a major supplier, consumer and also a transit route for human trafficking. Million of children driven into different types of exploitative labour often become the most vulnerable groups (UNICEF, June 2002).
In Nigeria and as in the other countries of the sub-region, there are strong demands for the girl-child as domestic house helps assisting couples to bring up their children for a fee (Odunda, 2002). Many of these children are also engaged as workers in the many bars, eateries and hotels in the major cities. For instance, Abuja child traffickers draw their victims from Kaduna, Benue and Kogi State. Many of these children “graduate” from these duties into prostitutes. According to Out (2003), in 1996, some 4000 children were trafficked from Cross River State to various parts of the country and beyond these were mostly used as labours in the coca and other plantations in South-Western Nigeria and Ivory Coast. Some of them were taken through Oron on hazardous ocean journey to Gabon. Other were taken through Mfum and Obudu to work in the cocoa plantations in Cameroon. These Akwa Ibom and Cross River routes are also patronized by South Easterners, who control most of the retail trade outlets in Gabon. However, the most sophisticated and targeted at the sex trade in Europe are traffickers from Edo State (Diana, 1985). The glamour displayed by a few returnee victims and other factors have combined to make trafficking business very lucrative and difficult to eradicate.