oa De Jure - Traditional “juju oath” and human trafficking in Nigeria : a human rights perspective - research

Volume 52 Number 1
  • ISSN : 2225-7160



Human trafficking in Africa is currently on the increase due to its benefits to the perpetrators. Despite the African Union’s (AU) functional commitment and other African seminal initiatives, to combat trafficking, the menace has remained un-stemmed. Noticeably, to date, women and children are the most vulnerable groups in human trafficking across the world. Africa remains the hub of human trafficking considering the predominance of poverty and conflict within the continent. The prevalence of women and children being trafficked, mainly for prostitution, has compounded the HIV/AIDS infection rate in Africa. In Nigeria, cross-border women and children trafficking for prostitution has been on the increase, as traffickers adopt various means of obtaining slaves. One of the means of recruiting women and children is to subject them to a traditional oath of silence ceremony. This control mechanism is to silence victims and trap them in debt bondage and it has been extremely effective in its implementation. Victims are subjected to the oath prior to their departure from Nigeria to ensure debt commitment and non-disclosure of the identity of the traffickers. However, in the event of non-compliance and violation of the oath by the victims and family members, illness and ultimate death may suddenly occur. The efficacy of the oath as a control mechanism is tantamount to torture as defined by international law. In light of the forgone, this study explores the use of the Oath of Silence in human trafficking and the vulnerabilities, which cause women and children to become victims of human trafficking. Hitherto, the study gives a snapshot of the gross human rights violations that occur therein. Finally, the study proposes new ways forward in safeguarding the rights of individuals.

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