Sights of children from northern Nigeria trooping to the South for menial jobs have become frequent in recent times.
In most cases, these children, who are usually minors, are trafficked to Lagos and other parts of the South, where they are used as tools to beg for alms. Some of them go on their own volition.
It was learnt that some of them travel without knowing their destination or what they are going to do. Daily Trust on Sunday reports that four of such children got stranded on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway after they left Kano State with the aim of getting better life in Lagos. They gave their names as Ibrahim Ali Fagge, Muhammed Kabir, Sani Musa and Hassan Abubakar.
They were, however, rescued by northern youths involved in the transportation business at the Kara-Isheri axis of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.
Muhammad Fayama Jarimi, leader of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, Isheri Kara branch, who, together with some Good Samaritans, rescued the four children, in an interview with Daily Trust on Sunday, condemned the practice of trafficking northern children to the South.
“We saw the four children, who are not more than 12 to 15 years old, stranded and wallowing in hunger after the truck driver dropped them on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway in Wawa area,” he said.
He said the children told him that they slept in a mosque the very night they got to Lagos after they left the Fagge area in Kano, where they sold sachet water, from which they saved N5,000 to travel to Lagos.
He called on the authorities to keep an eye on the rate at which truck drivers load passengers with goods at the Kwanar Dawaki park in Kano, alleging that “those drivers help in trafficking children from North to the southern part of the country.”
One of the children, Sani Musa, told our correspondent that they decided to go to Lagos to look for menial jobs because they were told that it was easier to make money there. He disclosed that they paid N5,500 to board a truck at the Kwanar Dawaki motor park.
“We did not even inform our parents, so they didn’t know our plans. Some of us have both parents while some have divorced parents; and others don’t have at all. We only asked our friends to tell our parents that we had gone to Lagos after we got into the truck,” he said.
He added that they spent four to five days on the road on the truck, and before getting to Lagos, they had spent all the money with them.
He said the truck driver dropped them off at night and they were conveyed by a motorcycle to the cattle market at Isheri Kara after charging them N800, which was paid by a Fulani man, after which they went to sleep in a mosque.
The children, however, said they had decided to return to Kano as Lagos had not met their expectations.
“We don’t know anyone here; we don’t have a place to sleep and there’s no food for us, so we are asking for help to go home,” he said.
Malam Audu, one of the Good Samaritans who rescued the children, told our correspondent that trafficking children from the North had become rampant.
“Few days ago, a driver dropped two children he picked up from Kano and tried to communicate with someone he claimed requested for them. According to him, the person was coming to meet him and pay for their transport.
“The man did not show up to pick up the children and the driver brought the two to us. As we were condemning his action, we could no longer see the children.
“Some people transport minors and use them as tools to make money,” Audu alleged.
Also, Muhammad Madu, the leader of the truck drivers’ union at Isheri Kara cattle market, told Daily Trust on Sunday that drivers who come to Lagos from Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara states and other places in the North West were the ones used for conveying goods with people inside, thereby aiding child trafficking.
Muhammed Fayama has already taken the lead in seeking help for the four stranded children, who he said were put in a bus that took them back to Kano.
Investigation by Daily Trust on Sunday revealed that one of the children is a native of Gashuwa town in Yobe State.
A police officer in Gashuwa town, who asked to remain anonymous, said the child needed special attention and care given the difficult situation he found himself.
He said the boy and his three other brothers were from a broken relationship, and both parents, who were never married, are late, leaving him and others in the care of an uncle.
He said a police officer also undertook to take the boy in, but at 12, he steals and takes hard drugs due to lack of parental care. “Children of such nature need special attention and consideration for their betterment and that of the country,” he said.
Reacting to the story, the Sarkin Hausawa of Ogere, Ogun State, Alhaji Abdullahi Saminaka, blamed parents who have little or no care for their children, thus allowing them to leave the North and come to the South for menial jobs.
“There are some agents who trick parents into giving them children, who they use as tools for begging money in the streets of Lagos and other parts of the South. Their parents are being ‘settled’ with part of the money,” he said.
He added that in most cases, these children find themselves in difficult situations with nowhere to stay. He also called on the authorities to keep an eye on children who migrate from the northern part of the country to the South.