Good afternoon friends and partners of NAPTIP. We are delighted to share our activities at the agency in the past month with you in this April Edition of the NAPTIP News Digest.

The NAPTIP E-Digest is a platform created by the Director – General in line with her resolve to extend NAPTIPs’ reach and continue to create awareness and sensitize the public on the activities of NAPTIP and its partners; the ills of human trafficking and violence against persons and NAPTIP’s reporting channels.

The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) is the focal Agency for the fight against the scourge of human trafficking in all its ramifications. It is empowered by the law to amongst other functions provide an effective and comprehensive Legal and Institutional framework for the prohibition, prevention, detection, prosecution and punishment of human trafficking and other related offences in Nigeria as well as the implementation of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, in the FCT.

In the month of April, NAPTIP hosted the ninth edition of the Embassy liaison meeting, it provided an opportunity for NAPTIP to continue collaboration and stressed the importance of international cooperation in the fight against Trafficking in Persons.

The Director – General of NAPTIP, Professor Fatima Waziri – Azi also within the month in review inaugurated the NAPTIP Cyber – Security Response Team. Also, we have highlighted the details of NAPTIPS intervention in bursting a notorious sextortion cult in the FCT.

Please enjoy the April 2023 edition of NAPTIP News Digest.

NAPTIP Host the Ninth Edition of Embassy Liaison Meeting 

Every year, millions of people across the globe are affected by Trafficking in Persons (TIP)

Like the COVID-19, TIP can also be described as a crisis affecting every continent and almost every country either as a source, transit, or destination country. It is a complex crime that involves an organized criminal syndicate constantly innovating new ways to exploit unsuspecting individuals for gain. All available indices projects TIP as the second most lucrative crime after drug trafficking. To properly tackle TIP, various nations, governments, and organizations across the world must work together.

The importance of international cooperation in the fight against TIP cannot be overemphasized especially with the transborder nature of the crime, It is also essential that nations cooperate to exchange knowledge, intelligence and best practices   in order to effectively address the scourge as enshrined in the 2000 United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons (Palermo Protocol).

According the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC),   and its protocol on trafficking in persons, States are required to cooperate with one another to effectively combat TIP. Article 10 specifically outlines need for information exchange and training amongst state parties ‘’ Law enforcement, immigration or other relevant authorities of States Parties shall, as appropriate, cooperate with one another by exchanging information, in accordance with their domestic law’’.  Article 27 of the Organized Crime Convention also encourages States to cooperate closely with one another in combatting organized crimes including TIP and SOM.

It is against this background and in line with s Section 5 (I) of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015 (as re-enacted) National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) collaborates with relevant stakeholders in the fight against Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and Smuggling of Migrants (SOM).  In 2014 the agency initiated the Embassy Liaison Meeting (ELM). Convinced that TIP and SOM can better be combatted with cooperation among countries, the ELM aim to bridge communication gaps, strengthen Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) information sharing and intelligence gathering.  ELM started as a yearly meeting and later became a quarterly meeting and has over the years enjoyed robust sponsorship from IOM and UNODC. The ELM seeks to strengthen cooperation, networking, collaboration and partnership between NAPTIP and foreign partners towards the fight against TIP and SOM

The 12th April 2023 was yet another moment for NAPTIP and her partners as the Agency hosted the ninth edition of ELM. The event was held at Frazer Suite, Abuja and hosted in collaboration with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) under the UNODC project: ‘Strengthening Nigeria’s Criminal Justice response to Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants (PROMIS) funded by the Kingdom of Netherlands. The meeting which was the first in 2023 focused on the central theme: “Improving International Cooperation in the Fight Against Trafficking in Persons”.

In her opening remark, the Director General of NAPTIP, Prof Fatima Waziri-Azi welcomed all honoured guests. A total of 70 participants comprising representatives from nineteen Diplomatic Missions in Nigeria; Republic of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Cote d’Ivoire, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Italy, Lebanon, Liberia, Mali, Niger Republic, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirate, the United Kingdom) including representations from, Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development (FMHDSD), INTERPOL, Social Development Secretariat (SDS),  Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU),the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), International Organization for Migration (IOM), The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Federal Airport Authority of Nigerian  (FAAN), Network Against Trafficking, Abuse and Labour (NACTAL), Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA),  UNODC and NAPTIP.

Prof Waziri-Azi highlighted some emerging trends and remarkable progress made by the Agency since the last Embassy Liaison Meeting particularly in the areas of operations, partnerships and reach. This includes: emergence of  TIP for Q-Net/Q-Link; partnerships with with the United States National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children to tackle online exploitation;  and the launch of the Amber Alert on Facebook and Instagram in partnership with Meta. The DG stated “In collaboration with Meta, in September last year we launched the Amber Alert on Facebook and Instagram placing Nigeria as the second country in Africa and 29th in the world with an Amber Alert program. Our collaboration with the United States National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, International Justice Mission with funding from Meta and another collaboration with UNODC has led to enhanced capacity building for the NAPTIP cybercrime task team on Child Sexual Abuse Materials, Open Source & Social Media Intelligence; and Online Investigation”

The DG also informed that the period under review saw increased conviction resulting from scaled engagements with judges, stringent enforcement of the law   and robust partnership with National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and other Law Eenforcement Agencies in Nigeria. She recounted the recent success story which was as a result of robust intelligence gathering and information sharing between the Italian government and Nigeria which led to the arrest and extradition of a high-profile trafficker, Charity Omoruyi. The DG concluded by announcing NAPTIP expansion from 29 to 32 Offices across Nigeria. While impressing on all partners to continue to work together to put an end to human trafficking, she stated “Our vision as an agency is to continue scaling our efforts and strengthening existing structures to achieve sustained success in the fight against human trafficking and violence against persons and we hope to continue working with you all to design creative solutions for ways to better understand and tackle human trafficking”.

The event featured goodwill message from Mr. Danilo Campisi the deputy country Representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). He commended NAPTIP for outstanding performance and emphasised that the Embassy Liaison meeting is aimed at addressing communication channels among stakeholders, establishing contact for networking on timely intelligence in trafficking in person cases among countries, clarifying procedures for case referrals, request for assistance and intelligence information sharing, sharing countries perspectives on current trends, dimensions, successes and challenges in the fight against trafficking in persons and related crimes.

Hon. Minister, Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Mrs Sadiya Umar Farouq, represented by Dr. A.A Sulaiman, Deputy Director, Disaster Management, warmly welcomed all participants to the information sharing platform and commended NAPTIP’s initiative as well as the commitments of partners towards the sustenance of the meeting. The Hon. Minister harped on the need to jointly discuss and expose trafficking patterns in order to assist the government in tackling the menace. The minister promised to adequately support NAPTIP in the fight against human trafficking through its various interventions and programmes.

During the technical session, an overview of the 2022 Global TIP Report was presented by Mrs. Abimbola Adewumi. Full report can be accessed here Other presenters included Mr Aganran Ganiyu Alao, Head, Intelligence and International Cooperation Unit (IICU) NAPTIP, Mr. Pius Akutah  Federal Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and  Mr. Adesina Gabriel from the  FCT Social Development Secretariat (SDS). The event was participatory and engaging as delegates took turns in sharing their own activities. The meeting came to an end with next steps and action points and all participants unanimously agreed to host the next ELM in October 2023 with a focus on cybercrimes.

Collaboration among different countries is essential for effective and sustainable solutions to combat human trafficking and smuggling of migrants. It is a shared responsibility, as such all countries must work together to protect the rights and dignity of the victims of this heinous crime.

Cybercrime On the Rise – DG Inaugurates the NAPTIP Cyber Security Response Team

In today’s digital age, cybercrime has become a major threat to individuals, businesses, and governments around the world. Cyber criminals are constantly developing new ways of attacking and exploiting victims, and the frequency and severity of cyber-attacks and online sexual exploitation are on the rise. One area where cybercrime is particularly alarming is in the realm of human trafficking.

Cybercrime is defined as any criminal activity that involves a computer or a network. This includes hacking, phishing, malware attacks, and identity theft, among other things. According to a report by Cybersecurity Ventures, the cost of cybercrime is expected to reach $6 trillion globally by 2021. This is up from $3 trillion in 2015. The report also estimated that cybercrime would become more profitable than the global trade of all major illegal drugs combined by 2021. One area where cybercrime is particularly concerning is in the realm of human trafficking. According to a report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the profits generated by forced labour and human trafficking are estimated to be $150 billion per year. These profits are often laundered through financial systems, making it difficult to track and prosecute the individuals and organizations responsible.

In the last ten years, NAPTIP has witnessed an unprecedented increase in online crime with human trafficking fast moving from offline to online recruitments via various social media platforms including the dark web.  To proactively tackle these crimes, for the past 8 months, NAPTIP in collaboration with United States National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, International Justice Mission with funding from Meta and another collaboration with UNODC has been enhancing the capacity of the NAPTIP Cybersecurity Response Team on Child Sexual Abuse Materials, Open Source & social media Intelligence; and Online Investigation. Because of these collaborations and trainings, the Cybersecurity Response Team is currently investigating 6 cyber tip reports on child online exploitation and sextortion.

To further strengthen the Agency’s stance to effectively deal with these issues, the Director General of NAPTIP Prof, Fatima Waziri-Azi has prioritized cybersecurity by investing in the resources need to investigate cybercrimes and protect individuals against cyber threats. It is against this background that on April 19th, 2023, Prof Waziri inaugurated the NAPTIP Cybersecurity Response Team. “The Cybersecurity Response Team is made up of the trained Officers from different units and departments of the Agency and will leverage cutting-edge technology and expertise to identify perpetrators of cybercrimes within our remit in collaboration with other stakeholders to enhance our collective response to the challenges of cybersecurity and online exploitation” she stated.

The DG further added that given the constant presence of threat actors, cyberattacks against private and public organizations are inevitable, which is why the Cybersecurity Response Team is also charged with the responsibility of preventing and responding to cyber-attacks on the Agency’s cyber infrastructure through an Embedded Endurance Strategy. “Cyber risks should not only be considered at the level of either individual devices or the Agency’s overarching structure, but instead be addressed throughout every aspect of NAPTIP” she urged. The DG charged the team to be professional and committed as a huge responsibility has been bestowed on them.

Sextortion, The Scourge of Digital Age: NAPTIP Bursts a Notorious Sextortion Cult in FCT

Technology and the internet have done so much good in an era of globalization, but it has also contributed to the heinous crime of sextortion in recent years. Sextortion is a form of sexual exploitation where a person is coerced into sharing sexually explicit images or videos of themselves, which are then used as a leverage to demand money or other sexual favors from the victim.

One of the means Sextorters prey on their victims is via social media platforms where they would initiate conversations, spend weeks and even months to groom and lure unsuspecting individuals into sharing sexually explicit images and videos. Then they use coercion and threats to compel the victim to do what they want, which could be money or videos. They would threaten to leak these images and videos online if the girls did not pay them and where the victims refuse, they make do with their threats.

Sextortion can be perpetrated by criminals or by someone known to the victim and even someone the victim trusts. Sextortion by someone known to the victim is extremely common. It could be a former long-term partner or someone the victim only met once. Sextortion can have devastating effects on victims, especially on young victims, and it is easy to become a victim.

The rise of sextortion has become a major concern to Law enforcement authorities and other stakeholders who are working relentlessly to tackle this crime. The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), an NGO that seeks to prevent child online exploitation and abuse has given NAPTIP access to millions of cyber tip reports on child online exploitation including sextortion.

NAPTIP recently recorded a breakthrough in its efforts with the arrest of members of a notorious cult known for perpetrating gruesome acts of sextortion and terrorizing young girls and other residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and its and its environs. The arrests of these perpetrators followed an intense surveillance and undercover operation ordered by the Director General of NAPTIP, Prof. Fatima Waziri – Azi, in response to several complaints by victims and other stakeholders. The arrest of the gang is a significant milestone in the fight against sextortion and sends a powerful message to other criminals who are involved in this heinous act.

Speaking on the development at the NAPTIP Headquarters, Abuja, Prof. Fatima Waziri – Azi, expressed grave concerns over the incremental cases of sextortion perpetrated by mostly young men against young girls within the FCT and called for increased vigilance among parents and stakeholders.

The Director General explained, “After the criminals have one or more videos or pictures, they threaten to publish that content, or they threaten violence, to get the victim to produce more images. The shame, fear, and confusion victims feel when caught in this cycle often prevent them from asking for help or reporting the abuse”.Prof.

Fatima Waziri-Azi advised young girls to be aware of this trend and protect themselves by reporting all cases of sextortion to NAPTIP, saying, “Do not be afraid to speak up. Do not be gas lighted into thinking it was your fault. It is a crime and a crime against you. Report all perpetrators. If you do not report, you are emboldening these criminals, and what happened to you will happen to someone else’’. The DG encouraged parents to support their children if they report cases of sextortion to them. Sextortion is sexual exploitation, extortion, blackmail, pornography.

The DG further cautions the public, not to open attachments from people you do not know. It could be malware. She advised them to turn off your electronic devices and web cameras when you are not using them and never to pay or share more of your sexual images with sextorters. “Rather, all conversations, chats, or messages between yourself and the perpetrator should be saved. Do not delete any correspondence,” she stresses. The Director General, finally call on the public to report any incident of sextortion to the Agency immediately.

NAPTIP E-Digest is a monthly Newsletter to extend NAPTIP’s reach and continue to create awareness and sensitize the public on the activities of NAPTIP and the evils of human trafficking and violence against persons. It also projects various NAPTIP platforms for seeking help.

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