The United Kingdom Deputy High Commission to Nigeria, Her Excellency, Harriet Thompson has declared that human trafficking remains absolutely an issue of high priority to the UK government, adding that her country will continue to partner with Nigeria and other relevant institution to combat the menace.
The UK envoy said Britain is desirous of seeking further ways of collaboration with Nigeria and specifically the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) for the purpose of reducing the ugly development of human trafficking.
Harriet Thompson stated this when she led a delegation from the British High Commission on a courtesy visit to the Director-General of NAPTIP, Julie Okah-Donli at the Agency’s headquarters in Abuja.
The delegation included Lewis Evans First Secretary for Justice and Home Affairs, Nicolas Marrs Regional Manager for Immigration Enforcement and Richard Ough from the Department for International Development, Modern Slavery/Human Trafficking lead.
The Deputy High Commissioner who expressed satisfaction with the performance of NAPTIP briefed the DG on the progress recorded in the UK sponsored Joint Border Task Force (JBTF) and other collaborative projects under the Memorandum of Understating signed by both countries for the purpose of proper management of migration.
While suggesting the need to step up sensitization and awareness creation aspect of the NAPTIP statutory function, the British envoy promised continuous assistance to the Agency, most especially in the areas of capacity building for Officers of the Agency as well as strengthening operations of the JBTF which are parts of the contents of the MOU earlier signed by both parties.
In her response, NAPTIP DG, Julie Okah-Donli, commended the British government for her assistance to the Agency pointing out that NAPTIP has recorded tremendous progress in the areas of referral system as well as operations of the JBTF programme.
The NAPTIP boss reiterated her vision for the Agency which she said is to re-engineer NAPTIP as a specialized crime fighting Agency that is foremost in the suppression and elimination of trafficking in persons with specific attention on awareness creation, advocacy, enforcement of the law, capacity development as well as comprehensive rehabilitation of human trafficking in order to enhance the dignity of all persons in line with international best practices.
She urged the visiting envoy to accelerate action on the implementation of some of the components of the earlier signed MOU that have not been touched so that both parties can keep faith with the agreement.
Highlight of the visit was the presentation of some of the publications of the Agency to the visiting UK delegation.
For; Head PPRU
The Director -General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Julie Okah-Donli, has called for an increased collaboration between the governments of Finland and Nigeria in order to reduce the incidences of human trafficking and illegal migration in the two countries. The NAPTIP DG who expressed worry over the plights of Nigerian – Europe bound migrants, identified sustained cooperation, capacity building, surveillance as well as intelligence sharing as some of the basic ingredients for combating the menace of human trafficking that is presently a global concern. She stated this while playing host to the Finland Ambassador to Nigeria, Ms Jirjo Suomela-Chowdhury who led a team comprising officials of the Embassy and the visiting officials of the Finnish Border Guards to her office. The DG who acknowledged the fruitful collaboration between the Agency and the government of Finland over the years and which were the fall-out of the earlier memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by both parties reminded the Ambassador of some of the components of the agreement that were yet to be implemented and the urgent need to activate them. According to her, these unattended provisions of the earlier MOU include the modalities for exchange of information, monitoring of human trafficking occurrences in both countries with a view to determining adequate response, provision of mutual support, capacity development and other counter trafficking initiative components. She also solicited the support of the government of Finland in the rehabilitation and care of victims. Speaking earlier, the Finland Ambassador to Nigeria, Ms Jirjo Suomela-Chowdhury described human trafficking as a phenomenon that is very difficult to comprehend bearing in mind the horrible experiences of the victims in the hands of traffickers. While commending the Agency for its uprightness and accountability while executing the earlier signed MOU which was coordinated by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Finland envoy expressed readiness to further support NAPTIP in a bid to curbing human trafficking. She briefed the Director General on the new video conferencing technology at the Embassy adding that such could be used to investigate or enhance understanding of issues of human trafficking especially with other partners in Finland. The Ambassador stressed the need to strengthen protection around victims in line with the required standard in order to guarantee their safety in the face of increased desperation among the traffickers.
For: Head, Press and Public Relations (NAPTIP)