Kevin Hyland, the first independent anti-slavery commissioner of the United Kingdom (UK), has expressed deep concern over modern slavery and human trafficking of Nigerians to the UK.
The latest figures from the National Crime Agency in the UK shows that more than 2,000 potential trafficking victims were referred to the authorities in 2014, with 244 (12.2%) of the 2,000 from Nigeria.
The 2014 figures were a 31 per cent increase in what it was in 2013, with potentials for a rise in 2015, but the Hyland has said clamping down on the problem of Nigerians being trafficked to the UK is a main priority.
According to the BBC, the UK is “deeply concerning” that hundreds of Nigerians were brought in every year for prostitution or forced labour, adding that such exploitation was “enormous”.
The Home office said it was “committed to tackling modern slavery” and was addressing specific issues in Nigeria.
“I am extremely concerned about this. And we’re talking about several hundreds every year. This isn’t just a one-off – it’s continuous – so the treatment of these people, what they go through, is actually a very serious crime, so for me it’s a big problem,” he said.
“But also, I think the fact that there is a demand for this kind of exploitation in the United Kingdom really concerns me, that there are people who will want to buy sex, will want to exploit, will want to have children as what are current-day slaves, so that is a really serious problem.”
Hyland, who was appointed the first anti-slavery commissioner in November 2014, added that the home office would go on with prosecution because a handful of convictions is not enough.
“It’s about working with the law enforcement agencies in Nigeria – working with all those in the communities and telling them this could happen – and that’s never been brought together before so it’s unique.
“This is a new idea – Europol, Interpol, National Crime Agency, all must work together. It’s up to me to oversee this.”
The home office spokesman said the UK was already working with Nigeria to address human trafficking.
“We are already addressing the specific issue of human trafficking in Nigeria. This includes working closely with the National Crime Agency and the Nigerian National Agency for the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons to identify and disrupt Nigerian networks involved in the movement of potential victims.”