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Operatives of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), have commenced investigation into the alleged trafficking of about 67 children from the Northern part of the country by some persons in questionable circumstances.

The children, whose ages range between 10 and 14, were intercepted in three different operations by men of the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian police at different locations around Nasarawa state.

In the first interception carried out by the Nigerian Army during a routine check on Friday 20th January, 2017, a total of 22 children were rescued from a suspected child trafficker along the Nasarawa-Abuja road. They were loaded inside a 7-seater Toyota Serena space bus and were said to be heading to Nasarawa from Minna, Niger state.

Preliminary information extracted from some of the shabbily dressed children most of who could neither speak nor understand English, revealed that they were allegedly recruited for an Islamic education mission in Nasarawa. Two persons suspected to be the recruiters were arrested. Also on Thursday 26th January 2017 another batch of 13 children and suspects were intercepted by the Police in Nassarawa State and handed over to NAPTIP for investigation.

Barely 72 hours after the interception, on Monday 23rd January, 2017 men of the Nigerian Police Force on routine patrol along the same Abuja–Nasarawa road, intercepted another 18-seater commercial bus loaded with 32 children of the same age bracket as the first case. Investigation revealed that their mission and destination were the same. Two persons suspected to the recruiters were also arrested.

All the 67 children are presently at the Shelter of the Agency awaiting the arrival of their parents who have been contacted as parts of the investigation procedure.

Speaking on the incidents, Acting Director–General of the Agency, Mr. Abdulrazak Dangiri, expressed sadness over the development adding that it is a strange and disturbing phenomenon that requires attention of all Nigerians.

He however, warned parents against giving their children out under questionable situations.

Vincent Adekoye

For: Head, Press & Public Relations

Vehicles used to coveyed the interceted children.

No fewer than 2700 Nigerians including victims of human trafficking entered into Austria between January and August 2016. Many of them also entered illegally.

The Austrian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Werner Senfter disclosed this in Abuja on Wednesday while on a courtesy visit to the Headquarters of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).

‘’Not all of them are legal, of their free will; many with false and wrong hopes and undergoing dangerous journeys’’, he lamented.

He therefore called for stronger ties between Austria and Nigeria especially with NAPTIP to stem the tide of human trafficking and other forms of irregular migration from Nigeria to Austria.

He reiterated his government’s readiness to support NAPTIP in the fight against external trafficking, adding that the Embassy was already supporting a Safe House Project in Abuja though a small one at the moment.

He called on the Agency to come up with ideas that could lead to better and rewarding ties with Austrian authorities, stressing that his visit to NAPTP is to lead to better cooperation between the Embassy and the Agency on one hand and the two countries on the other. ‘’There is a wide range of benefits from cooperation’’, he further added.

In his response, the Ag. Director- General of NAPTIP Alhaji Abdulrazak Dangiri expressed the Agency’s gratitude to the Ambassador and the Austrian Government for their interest in collaborating with NAPTIP especially at this difficult time for many nations.

He stressed that the Agency is battling with internal and external trafficking, and can do with all the support it can get, especially from foreign governments where Nigerians are trafficked to. He expressed NAPTIP’s willingness to work with Austria in ridding the country of illegal migrants and victims of Trafficking in persons whom he believes constitute a problem for the Austrian government.

The visit had in attendance Directors of NAPTIP and the Consul General of the Austrian Embassy, Mrs Karin Pregler.

Nneka Aniagoh

For: Head, Press and Public Relations.