“I AM PRICELESS” Campaign against TIP and SOM Launched in Nigeria
In response to the scourge and suffering caused by Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and Smuggling of Migrants (SOM), the European Union Delegation, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic In Persons (NAPTIP) and the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) launched a nationwide “I AM PRICELESS” campaign against Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants on 9 October in Abuja.
The “I AM PRICELESS” campaign is part of the awareness raising component under the European Union funded project “Promoting Better Management of Migration in Nigeria by Combating and Reducing Irregular Migration that occurs, inter alia, through Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and Smuggling of Migrants (SOM)”. In a statement by the Deputy Head of European Union Delegation, Mr. Kazimierz Romanski identified the overall objective of the European Union's support under the project as enhancing Nigeria's capacity to manage migration and maximise its development potential.
Presenting the keynote address at the launch, the Attorney General of the Federation and the Honourable Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, CFR, reinforced the Government’s commitment to tackle TIP and SOM. He revealed that the Federal Ministry of Justice is in the process of convening an inter-ministerial meeting of all relevant stakeholders to address issues raised in the US Annual Anti-Trafficking Report of 2012 and to adopt effective strategies to combat trafficking nationwide.
A special feature of the launching of the campaign was the unveiling of specially designed Ankara fabric, to serve as a symbol of solidarity nationwide and with the ongoing world wide campaign against trafficking in person. Applauding the campaign, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajia Zainab Maina, appealed to all men and women to fight the evil of human trafficking, urging them to use all avenues to make all households in Nigeria especially those at the grassroots, conversant with message.
The UNODC Representative, Ms. Mariam Sissoko, while welcoming participants to the event explained that the “I AM PRICELESS” campaign aims to reach out to law and policy makers and other leaders for the adoption of policies and legal frameworks supportive of the fight against trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants. It also seeks to sensitize communities and families who are often betrayed and deceived by people who make false promises of a better future for their children and relatives, within or outside of Nigeria. The “I AM PRICELESS” campaign consists of several engaging and interactive activities including grass roots campaigns in 6 States, namely, Lagos, Benue, Edo, Niger, Cross River, Anambra and the Federal Capital of Nigeria, the production of advocacy materials and radio and television jingles, advocacy visits to State Governors, traditional rulers and secondary schools. As part of the campaign, the project will also host stakeholders meetings, school dialogues, and a nationwide poem competition among others.
The Executive Secretary of NAPTIP, Mrs. Beatrice Jedy-Agba, called on the nation’s key stakeholders to partner with NAPTIP in employing the ‘’whole of society,’’ and whole of government’’ approach to stamp out human trafficking and to liberate and uplift the vulnerable, especially women and children, from dehumanising and exploitative employment and wage; and to ensure their rehabilitation and effective reintegration into society.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior, reiterated the Ministry’s commitment to stamp out strengthen boarder management and reduce smuggling of persons. This was reiterated by the Comptroller General of Immigration, Mrs. Rose Uzoma OON, mni (represented by Deputy Comptroller General R.B. Musa) who also enjoined relevant stakeholders to put all hands on deck with a view to achieving these objectives.
Adopting the UN approach of enlisting the volunteer services and support of prominent personalities from the worlds of art, music, film, sport and literature to highlight key issues and to draw attention to its activities, two National Goodwill Ambassadors, Ms. Joke Silva a renowned actress as Goodwill Ambassador against Human Trafficking and the talented hip-hop artist, Mr. Jude Abaga, (also known as M.I. - Mr. Incredible), as Goodwill Ambassador against Smuggling of Migrants. The formal appointment was made by the representative of the UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Angele Dikongue-Atangana the Country Representative of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Nigeria. The duo is expected to tap into Nigeria’s talent in music, film, and theatre to amplify advocacy and sensitization efforts at all levels on trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants.
A Blue Heart fashion show to raise awareness on human trafficking also took place during the launch. The inspiration for the blue heart fashion show is based on the well - rooted practice in Nigeria of using uniform fabric or “asoebi” to communicate togetherness and oneness with an event, cause, or institution. The “I AM PRICELESS” Campaign therefore sought to combine the Blue heart symbol and the popular practice of using uniform cloth (asoebi) in Nigeria to rally national opinion and engagement on TIP. The Blue Heart is an international symbol that represents the sadness of those who are trafficked and the cold-heartedness of those who buy and sell fellow human beings. The designs were made by six Nigerian fashion houses from across the nation, namely Dominchis Couture designs, Dzyn, Falke aisha, Iconola, Jameelarh Ibrahim, and Vintage Collect at no cost to the campaign. The models were drawn from staff of the organizing entities, namely, NAPTIP, NIS, UN Country Team, and EU.