We remain undaunted, committed, and poised to tackle human trafficking…says the DG
The Federal Government of Nigeria has expressed satisfaction with the performance of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, describing it has given Nigeria a face in the comity of nations as a foremost counter trafficking Agency providing mentorship for several other countries within Sub-Sahara Africa and other continents, setting the pace for others to follow.
Permanent Secretary, the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Dr. Nasir Gwarzo, stated this recently at the World Press Conference organised in commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of NAPTIP and the 2023 World Day Against Human Trafficking held at the agency’s Training and Resource Centre, Abuja.
It would be recalled that the Agency was created on July 14th, 2003.
Represented by the Director of the Humanitarian Department Affairs Department, Alhaji Grema Ali, the Permanent Secretary, submitted NAPTIP has not only lived up to the expectation of its founding fathers and other partners across the World, but it has succeeded in coordinating regional efforts thereby enhancing the fight against human trafficking globally.
He said “Gentlemen of the Press, in fulfillment of the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women, and Children in July 2003, Nigeria enacted the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act. This legislation was amended in 2005 and re-enacted in 2015 as the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act.
“It is heartwarming to note that the Agency, which took off amidst several inadequacies and operational challenges in a small apartment tucked away somewhere in the Maitama area of the Federal Capital Territory, has grown exponentially with presence in 32 States of the Federation and 14 shelters.
“Some of the notable achievements include awareness campaigns and sensitisation deliberately designed to educate people about human trafficking, its violence, and what drives it, especially at the sub-national levels through- community-centred awareness creation in partnership with traditional, religious and community leaders; survivor’s advocacy campaigns; school campaigns; digital media campaigns; and traditional media campaigns.
“The establishment of secondary school vanguards, rolling out the Trafficking in persons curricula in schools nationwide, Infusion of Trafficking in Persons issues into the Minimum Standards of Colleges of Education in collaboration with the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), the establishment of a 24/7 Call Centre and Launch of the 627 short code, are all mechanisms the Agency has put in place to stem the tide of this heinous crime.
“Other strategies are reviving of NAPTIP on the Move TV Docu-Series program on NTA in 2022, introduction of a monthly e-news digest with a diverse reach of 150,000 subscribers; Launch of ”THE CONVERSATION WITH NAPTIP” in 2021. A digital forum which uses virtual platforms and live stream; continuous capacity building and sensitisation for various stakeholders and partners on trafficking, including the media, NURTW, the judiciary, prosecutors, investigators, traditional and faith-based organisations, and periodic research into the causes, trends, and patterns of human trafficking.
“The Agency has successfully conducted and collaborated on several joint operations with local and international sister Security Agencies which have led to several arrests, and prosecutions including the recent extradition of a high-profile human trafficker to Italy to serve her 13 years jail term.
“Some milestones of the Agency include: 14,813 cases reported; 10,005 suspected traffickers arrested; 623 convictions (80 convictions in 2022 and 47 in 2023 for now); 260 ongoing cases in various courts across the country; the rescue of close to 22,000 victims of human trafficking, 11 ongoing Mutual Legal Assistance cases. Out of the 11, 2 cases are currently being prosecuted in courts in Lagos and Benin.
“Between October and December 2021, Nigeria signed Bilateral Agreements to prevent, suppress and punish, trafficking in persons, especially women and children, with the Republic of Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso. Also, in November 2021 and June 2022, NAPTIP signed a Memorandum of Understanding to prevent, suppress and punish, trafficking in persons, especially women and children, with its counterpart agencies in the Republic of Niger and The Gambia, respectively. These Bilateral Agreements and MoUs have enhanced regional cooperation to respond to human trafficking within the ECOWAS sub-region”, the Permanent Secretary stated.
In what is seen as a renewed vote of absolute confidence on the Agency, the Permanent Secretary said, “But for the establishment of this specialist counter-trafficking Agency, Nigeria would have remained an engendered nation with traffickers enjoying all sorts of impunity. But for the efforts of the government, Nigeria would have been ostracised from the comity of nations as a state with zero compliance and commitment to the eradication of human trafficking. This only reinforces the established fact that for us to effectively control human trafficking, we must deploy a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach and this means the commitment of each and every one of us, especially the media”.
In her remarks, the Director General of NAPTIP, Prof. Fatima Waziri-Azi, who outlined a series of activities lined up for the Anniversary Celebration and the 2023 World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, told the crème of media partners and other stakeholders that gathered at the hall that it had been 20 years of growth and reinvention for the Agency in tremendous ways in terms of scaling new efforts and all-round expansion occasioned by strategic thinking and selfless service.
The Director General pointed out that even though the Agency had seen the issue of human trafficking spread like wildfire in terms of enormity, trends, and patterns within the year under review, it has succeeded in dismantling these criminal networks because of its strong determination and undaunted commitment.
Prof. Fatima Waziri-Azi, told the media that despite the frightening global statistics on the prevalence of human trafficking across the World as released through the 2023 Global Slavery Index, which indicates an urgent and more strategic action to curb the menace, “Nigeria is better poised to control and tackled human trafficking due to the collaborative efforts of everyone.
“The public is better informed about issues of human trafficking and this is due to the amplified visibility of NAPTIP. Nigerians have become their brother’s keeper, looking out for one another and this has increased reportage of issues of human trafficking and violence against persons”
“Sometimes when I reflect on how far we have evolved as a country in controlling the scourge of human trafficking, we are better and stronger. However, it may appear progress isn’t being made because of the enormity of what we face as a Country, but I can categorically and unequivocally state that traction is been made” Prof. Fatima Waziri-Azi, stated amidst cheers even from the media partners.
In a statement signed by Vincent Adekoye, Press Officer, NAPTIP, Directors of both the Ministry and NAPTIP, partners from the ICMPD, UNODC, Expertise France, WOTCLEF, and other guests were present at the World Press Conference.