Posted by Mary Tom, Abuja | 9 January 2014 | 4,628 times
A total of 220 persons have been successfully prosecuted and their convictions secured by the
National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and other Related Matters (NAPTIP) over the past 10 years of its existence. Out of this, 46 convictions were secured in the year 2013, according to NAPTIP’s Executive Secretary, Beatrice Jedy-Agba.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday at NAPTIP’s headquarters in Abuja, the NAPTIP Executive Secretary also disclosed that 442 cases were reported to the agency, out of which 272 cases were successfully investigated.
“Presently, the agency still has 101 cases in various courts in the country. I am pleased to inform you that we are currently setting up a forensic laboratory to enhance our investigation procedures for cases of human trafficking reported to the agency,” Mrs. Jedy-Agba said. She then gave the following overview of the agency’s activities:
“Victim Rehabilitation: NAPTIP, with support from our partners rescued two hundred and thirty two (232) victims. I would like to appreciate our partners who have aided NAPTIP work in this regard include; Immigration Service, Police, State Security Services, Civil Defence, NGOs, etc.
“The Agency has empowered just forty percent of the number of rescued victims in vocations such as Hairdressing, Tailoring, Catering and Computer training in order to reintegrate them back into society. We are hopeful that more victims will receive empowerment this year.
“This year, NAPTIP hopes to increase engagement with representatives of destination countries, partners and sister law enforcement organisations within and outside the country to forge closer ties that will yield better cooperation and sustainable response to this fight. The crime of human trafficking is a transnational crime demanding cooperation with authorities outside our borders.
“Education and enlightenment is also critical to our mandate. In the past year, NAPTIP stepped up with its PE efforts engaging a variety of means to reach out to vulnerable persons including jingles and the production of books for young children to encourage early learning. NAPTIP will continue with an unrelenting approach in its efforts to bridge the gap between knowledge and ignorance for our citizens on the dangers of human trafficking. In this regard, we will utilise every available resource to bring the message of anti-trafficking to the dinner tables of fellow compatriots.
“In 2013, following the lapses and ambiguities of the anti-human trafficking laws on combating the scourge of human trafficking in the country, NAPTIP proposed an amendment of the enabling Act to the National Assembly. These amendments were to bring our anti trafficking legislation in conformity with the trafficking in persons protocol. Key areas include clearer definition of the offences and removing the option of fine and increase penalty for traffickers. We are hopeful that the proposed amendment bill will pass the third and final reading at both legislative houses of the National Assembly before the end of the first quarter of this year. One other area we hope to target is forfeiture of traffickers’ assets to the victims of trafficking trust fund. The Agency is poised to improve critical capacity of its officers in this area in order to enhance sources of funding to provide compensation to victims.
“In the course of last year, the ECOWAS Commission initiated a project which mandates State Parties to establish media and communication networks comprising media organisations in fifteen member states to ensure balanced reporting and public education about human trafficking and child protection. NAPTIP keyed into this initiative with the training of twenty one journalists in Makurdi which was supported by UNODC. Part of the outcome of the training is the establishment of an anti-human trafficking media and communication network established in Nigeria to complement the work, which you our dear friends have been doing with the Agency since inception.
“The fight against human trafficking remains a priority of the federal government and NAPTIP as the focal Agency in this fight has been working assiduously to fulfill its mandate. Regrettably, some of our cultural practices reinforce vulnerability of certain segments of our population to trafficking especially women and children. Trafficked persons can be found even in recognised economic activities such as manufacturing, mining, agriculture, domestic servitude, restaurants, bars, begging and in the sex industry.
“Modernization and westernisation has further exacerbated the problems of most source countries and made more difficult the protection of children and the vulnerable in our society. The traditional extended family protection system is breaking down, coupled with increasing poverty, unemployment, weak institutional framework for protection. Linkage between human trafficking and child protection is intricate just like the linkage between human trafficking and human security which empties into dire national security concerns for many countries.
“The late global icon Dr. Nelson Mandela said “that there can be no keener revelation of a society’s inner soul than the way it treats its children.”
“It is in our interest that the pursuit of our collective human security aspiration as a country must factor in tackling human trafficking and child protection concerns in an effective manner.
“We have recorded modest success in our fight, but it is not yet Uhuru. All hands must be on deck to support NAPTIP. We will increase our effort at awareness creation through sustained public enlightenment to boost education of the citizenry on the clear and present danger which TIP presents. Through research and advocacy programmes, more endemic locations have been identified and we will be working with our partners, states and local government to strategically target those areas. We hope to sign more agreements on operations with destination countries aimed at removing our citizens from environments of exploitation.
“Sale of Babies: As a responsible Federal Agency concerned about the protection of citizens from exploitation, NAPTIP’s investigations have revealed that the vile issue of baby sales in parts of the country is a clear case of abuse of the adoption process. We therefore call on all state Ministry of Women Affairs and other relevant agencies to closely monitor the adoption processes and oversight organizations authorized to work on child related matters.
“The promise of a better Nigeria must be anchored on a society where every child receives compulsory quality education which allows him/her enablement to compete in a free society and not the one that leaves a critical mass vulnerable to exploitation. May I once again implore you to key into the ECOWAS vision of an anti-trafficking media and communication network to deepen our society’s understanding of the dangers of trafficking through enhanced reportage of this crime that has shamed us all.”
•Photo shows NAPTIP’s Executive Secretary, Beatrice Jedy-Agba.
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