The Civil Rights Realisation and Advancement Network, a coalition of human rights lawyers, on Saturday asked the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons to investigate a suspected case of sexual exploitation and trafficking surrounding the Miss Anambra Beauty Pageant.
The development followed the circulation of an online lesbian sex video involving the winner of the 2015 edition of the pageant, Miss Chidimma Okeke.
In a petition dated October 29, and addressed to the Director General of NAPTIP, the group said there are strong indications that the organisers of the pageant are sexually exploiting young girls who participate in the beauty contest.
President of CRRAN, Mr. Olu Omotayo, who signed the petition, urged NAPTIP to prosecute masterminds of the alleged sexual exploitation.
Omotayo, in the petition which was made available to our correspondent in Enugu, also urged the relevant authorities to ban the Miss Anambra Beauty Pageant.
He expressed regrets that the pageant, which was established by a government agency – Anambra State Broadcasting Service – has turned into an avenue for sexual exploitation and trafficking.
Parts of the petition read, “Recent happenings which led to the online circulation of nude pictures and video of the said Miss Anambra pageant queen 2015, Miss Chidimma Okeke, have shown prima facie that the organisers of the pageant are using the avenue to sexually exploit young innocent girls of South East Nigeria.
“The purpose for which the state government through one of it’s parastatals, the Anambra State Broadcasting Service, established the pageant competition has been defeated because it could no longer be said that the pageant is promoting morality, culture of the people or empowering the female youths of this zone.
“We submit that it is part of the functions of your agency to among other things: ‘investigate all cases of trafficking in persons including forced labour, child labour, forced prostitution, exploitative labour, and other forms of exploitation, slavery and slavery like activities, bounded labour, removal of organs, illegal smuggling of migrants, sale and purchase of persons’.
“We submit that the incident in Anambra State is sexual exploitation and slavery of young female persons.
“We urge you to urgently commence thorough investigation into this barbaric competition and made those behind it face the full wrath of the law.”
The group insisted that the beauty contest should be banned, in order to prevent further exploitation of young girls.
It said, “It becomes more worrisome when it is an agency of the state government that is involved in a dastardly act of this nature. “This is a serious embarrassment to the whole nation.
“We urge you to take immediate action to save female youths in the South-East Nigeria, particularly Anambra State, from further sexual exploitation and slavery being perpetrated under the so called pageant.
“The government should immediately ban the said pageant.”