By Musa Gada, Sokoto
No fewer than 18 under aged girls have been rescued from their trafickers by officials of the National Agency for the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) in Sokoto State.
Head of Counselling and Rehabilitation of the office in the state, Hajiya Asmau Aliyu, said the girls were being used as house helps in some parts of the state.
Aliyu who paraded the children and two suspects: Alhaji Abdullahi Umar and his wife,Ummi Usman, said all the children who were aged between 4 to 12 years, were brought to Sokoto from Niger and Kebbi States to be used as ‘ child labourers.”
However, the duo denied all the allegations against them, claiming that, the children were brought by their parents for ‘ Quranic studies,”and not to partake in menial jobs.
According to her, “We have two suspects at hand, a couple and they will be prosecuted for the alleged offences of child exploitation,child abuse and human trafficking. We will keep the children in our custody for their safety, accommodation, feeding, counselling and rehabilitation. We will eventually reunite the children with their various families afterwards.”
She appealed to parents to desist from allowing some ” selfish individuals” from engaging their children in the obnoxious act.
In the same vein, the Coordinator of a Non-Governmental Organization in the state, ”Save the Child Initiative,”Mr Abdulganiyu Abubakar, commended the agency for swiftly swinging into actiion.
Abubakar, who is also the National Coordinator of the West African Network For the Protection of Children described the situation as ” sad.”
He said that, the use of children for child labour, was against the relevant laws in Nigeria,including the one establishing NAPTIP.
He appealed to parents to desist from allowing their children to ”be trafficked and engaged in such unwholesome acts.