In further combating the disturbing cases of trafficking in persons by Nigerians, under the guise of educational, cultural and musical excursions; labour migration; and sporting related travels to foreign countries, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, has given private shelters and rehabilitation homes to formalise their operation within one month, with effect from Wednesday 29th June, 2022.
In a communication e-signed by Stella Nezan Head, Press and Public Relations, if the organisations fail to obtain clearance certificates to operate in the country they risk being shut down and prosecuted by the agency.
Meanwhile, the Director-General, Dr. Fatima Waziri-Azi gave the ultimatum following the outcome of a meeting held with a segment of the Agency’s stakeholders at the weekend.
The agency stated that the ultimatum is based on the powers given to the Agency under the Trafficking in Persons (Control of Activities of Organisations and Centres) Regulations 2019 and the resolve of the Agency to give more effect to it after the grace period earlier given to the organisations to comply has expired.
Regulation 2019 is a piece of legislation issued by the Hon. Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN on 9th October, 2019.
The Director-General also informed that NAPTIP is closing in on travel agents and tour operators involved in the recruitment of Nigerians for labour outside Nigeria, educational excursions, cultural, music excursions and competitions with children outside the country without obtaining the requisite clearance certificates from the agrncy.
Explaining the rationale for the ultimatum, Dr. Waziri-Azi said ‘’Unscrupulous persons hide under the façade of being a travel agent, tour operator or recruiter of labour to deceive, defraud, and lure naive victims to foreign countries for the purpose of exploitation which takes the form of sexual exploitation, forced labour, debt bondage, slavery and removal of organs.
“The Regulation which is fully operational, gives NAPTIP the powers to regulate, control and scrutinise all travels as categorised by the Regulation and ensure that the intent and purpose of embarking on such travels are genuine, and it is projected that this regulatory function will reduce incidents of human trafficking,” Dr. Waziri-Azi noted.
The Director-General further explained that the Regulation empowers the Agency to charge an administrative fee for the issuance of Clearance Certificates. The fee, according to her, is to cover the cost of verification of documents submitted by the applicants via https://tipclearance.naptip.gov.ng/.
The Trafficking in person (Control of Activities of Organisations and Centres) Regulations, 2019, is in place to ensure that labour recruitment, travel agents, tour operations and operators of shelters and homes offering services for the rehabilitation of trafficked persons conduct their businesses within the ambit of the law and by extension stem the dreadful trend of human trafficking.