By Jethro Ibileke
Anyone who engages children under 12 years as domestic workers in Edo state now risks seven years imprisonment.
Also, anyone convicted for recruiting or receiving any child or adult for forced labour or even permitting any place or premises for such act is liable to five years imprisonment and a fine of N5 million.
The State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. (Mrs.) Yinka Omorogbe, made this disclosure while parading two women, Mrs. Martina Oziegbe and Mrs. Idehen Grace, who were allegedly involved in child trafficking, abuse and modern slavery of teenagers.
Omorogbe, who is also head, Edo State Taskforce Against Human Trafficking, warned that culprits would be prosecuted and if found guilty, would be convicted henceforth.
She stressed that the taskforce is empowered by the law to investigate and prosecute anyone who engages in trafficking in persons.
She said, “Edo State Taskforce Against Human Trafficking is empowered by the law to investigate and prosecute human trafficking.
“It is an offence to employ, recruit, harbour, transport, receive or hire out a child under 12 years of age, as a domestic worker.
“Many of these children that are hired as domestic workers are under the age of 12. This not allowed at all. Anybody who does this commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a minimum term of six months and not exceeding seven years.
“Anybody who requires, recruit, transport, harbour, receive or hire out a person to be used for forced labour, within or outside Edo State, or permit any place or premises to be used for forced labour, commits an offence and is liable on conviction of imprisonment of not less than five years and a fine of N5 million.
“When you are bringing someone as house help, you need to know it must not be a child or teenager, it must be an adult. In Edo State, all children are to go to school. Child labour, child trafficking, is not allowed, that is the law,” Omorogbe said.
She emphasised that it is a crime to take a child to one’s side in guise of taking care of such child and deprived the child of his or her dignity and right to education.
She said, “regardless of where the child comes from or the status, no child in Edo State is for sale, saying, Edo State is not a place where a child or a young person can be bought or sold.”
The accused persons who pleaded ignorance of the act were however pardoned due to the fact that it was the taskforce’s first outing of parading suspect.