Julie Okah-Donli, Director-General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, has said that there is no going back on the agency’s resolve to partner with witch doctors (also known as Juju Priests) in the fight against human trafficking.
Mrs. Okah-Donli in an interactive session with social media influencers in Lagos over the weekend said the witch doctors had been unaware of the effects of their practice and had revoked all the curses they laid on the trafficked girls.
She said, “The juju priests have a job to do, they are doing their jobs they are making their money.”
“NAPTIP has been able to sensitise them, we’ve had meetings with all of the juju priests, they said they did not even know, they are now ambassadors for NAPTIP because now they report cases to us.”
Mrs. Okah-Donli reportedly said in Abuja last week that the agency had engaged the services of witch doctors in Benin, Edo State, to curb trafficking in persons.
She was quoted to have said, “When we gathered these witch doctors recently to sensitise them on what human trafficking victims go through in Europe they were shocked.”
“And they have made their commitments to work with us to fight the menace of human trafficking.”
But clarifying thier position on the subject, NAPTIP in a statement said the agency had not hired or employed witch doctors in the fight against human trafficking.
The statement read, “What the Director-General said was that as part of the agency’s efforts to improve prosecution of trafficking cases in Nigeria, the agency is engaging all strata of society to understand their roles in the fight against human trafficking,” read the statement issued by Josiah Emerole, Head, Press and Public Relations, NAPTIP.
“Bearing in mind that the use of voodoo and administration of oaths on victims is one of the control mechanisms used by human traffickers on their victims, which makes it difficult for victims to open up and assist the agency in investigation, NAPTIP took its sensitisation campaign to Ayelara Shrines, in Edo State, where these oaths of secrecy are administered.
“The priests in those shrines were made to understand the implication of the oaths they administer on the victims and most of them have pledged not to work with the human traffickers any longer and have gone as far as assisting the victims renounce the oaths.”