Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, calls for government reform and concerted efforts by interest groups to end trafficking, especially of girls.
Oba Ogunwusi said this while addressing journalists at a press conference announcing the #SayNoToSlavery campaign championed by human trafficking victim Damilola Falomo.
Falomo, who was trafficked to Oman six years ago, leads a campaign against human trafficking, especially against girls, through her own foundation.
The campaign tagged #SayNoToSlavery is targeted at students of secondary schools across Ogun state.
Ooni while addressing newsmen, advocated stiffer punishment for human traffickers, saying tackling the menace must go beyond just setting aside a day to celebrate “human trafficking day”.
Oba Ogunwusi said he and his queen, Olori Aderonke Ademiluyi-Ogunwusi have been advocating compulsory girl-child education through the Queen Moremi Ajasoro Initiative to tackle trafficking of the girl-child.
Ooni who spoke through Sanni Omogbolabo, the mother of culture in Ife, said, “Over the years, I have taken it upon myself to fight this scourge to a standstill, and through the Queen Moremi Ajasoro Initiative, see to the overall growth, wellbeing and development of our children.
“I believe in addressing human trafficking and slavery amongst our people, as attention should not only be called to it only on days set aside to celebrate the day, but rather, concerted efforts towards engaging key stakeholders; as often as possible.
“To this end, a nationwide campaign on putting an end to human trafficking and slavery is been anchored by the Queen Moremi Ajasoro Initiative and thousands of girls and women were recipients of the Queen Moremi Ajasoro Initiative Entrepreneurship Grant.
“No doubt, if the girl-child is neglected in society, it might result in the destruction of the entire nation. These girls will then be exposed to all manner of social vices.
“It is my hope that both the public and private sectors will continually invest in the girl-child for sustainable development in the country.
“If we don’t invest in the girl-child, we are not investing in our nation.
“For me, the education of the girl-child remains paramount. Every girl child should have more opportunities to go to school, and that is why the Queen Moremi Ajasoro Education Grant was set up to help indigent students.”
He commended Falomo for leading the campaign against human trafficking in schools, saying “I am extremely proud of the woman, Damilola Falomo is becoming. Like any other girl, she was trafficked to Oman and miraculously found her way back to Nigeria.
“Upon hearing her story, she became a beneficiary of the Queen Moremi Ajasoro Initiative Grant. Today she is a better person, now propagating and leading the campaign against human trafficking.
“It is my hope that both the public and private sectors will continually invest in the girl-child for sustainable development in the country.”
Falomo in her remarks said human trafficking poses a grave danger to the social and economic development of the country.
She lamented that thousands of Nigerian girls who were trafficked to overseas, especially Arab countries are forced into the commercial sex trade or forced labour.