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. The law empowers NAPTIP 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. NAPTIP also implements the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act in the FCT.

The NAPTIP E-Digest is a platform created by the Director–General (DG) of NAPTIP, Prof. Fatima Waziri-Azi, in line with her resolve to extend NAPTIPs reach and continue to create awareness and sensitize the public on the activities of NAPTIP; ills of human trafficking and violence against persons and enhance the visibility of the Agency and its partners.

The month of March was eventful. The DG was nominated as a board member at the University of Abuja, Centre for Migration Studies; in commemoration of Women’s History month, NAPTIP in collaboration with the FCT SGBV Response Team, Justice Research Institute with funding from Ford Foundation, recognised and awarded three community SGBV activists for outstanding work in Sexual and Gender Based (SGBV) interventions; The DG received the Sheth International Alumni Award on the 14th of March 2023; and NAPTIP, in collaboration with the FCT SGBV Response Team, Justice Research Institute with funding from Ford Foundation, hosted the Phase 2 of the Survivors Support Forum.

Details of NAPTIPs renewed partnership with UNICEF and the DG’s lecture at the 6th Distinguished Leadership Series of the Abuja Leadership Centre, University of Abuja
are also in this edition of the news Digest.

We hope you find the March 2023 edition of NAPTIP News Digest enjoyable.

Happy Easter Celebrations everyone!

Irregular Migration and Increasing Crime: Prof. Fatima Waziri-Azi nominated as Board Member to shape the future direction of the University of Abuja Centre for Migration Studies 

The last decade has witnessed an unprecedented rate of irregular migration leading to an increase in associated crimes like human trafficking, smuggling of migrants, proliferation of small arms and light weapons, and displacements. Africa, and Nigeria in particular, has been a major source, transit and destination of irregular migration. To tackle this requires an all of government and all of society approach and the University of Abuja is taking a lead in the academic space by creating a centre for migration studies in the FCT.

It is against this background that The Director General of NAPTIP, Prof Fatima Waziri-Azi, was on Monday 6th March, 2023 inaugurated as a member of the board of the University of Abuja’s Centre for Migration Studies, alongside other professionals.

The Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Abdul-Rasheed Na’Allah, hosted the event. In his welcome remarks, The Vice Chancellor thanked the new members of the board for their commitment to issues of migration and how best to tackle irregular migration in the country. Speaking about the rationale behind setting up the centre for migration, he stated it is of utmost importance for young people in Africa to know where they are coming from and where they are heading;

“I am convinced that if this forced migration did not happen Africa would have been better off than it is, as most scientific discoveries, cultural successes and innovation in Europe and other first world countries are product Africans efforts, and that is why it is important to understand our history,” he emphasized.

The Vice Chancellor stated that

“Today, people leave Africa for different reasons; some were driven by poverty, others displacements, some in search of better jobs, greener pastures and many aggressively moving to the western world.” He also stressed the danger, risk, tragedy, and death that comes in the end for many irregular migrants in wrecked ships, dead seas and oceans. “Many women migrate and are forced into prostitution, forced and exploitative labour,” he continued.

Prof. Abdul-Rasheed Na’Allah also informed Board Members that the aim and objectives of setting up the Centre is to collaborate with governments across the world to better understand the issues of migration and find a lasting solution to it. “the centre will create an avenue for students to conduct evidence-based research that spores critical thinking and ask relevant questions as: how do we help our governments understand the reality of migration? How do we help Africa manage migrants? How do will help our government formulate the right policies to help Africans and more through research.”

Furthermore, he stated that the centre is equipped to train and prepare students though Post-Graduate Diploma and Masters programs to become experts in migration. The centre is expected to be both a service centre and an academic centre. A service centre because it will collaborate with different relevant organizations and an academic centre because of the intended collaboration with different academic institutions as well.

In her remarks, the DG NAPTIP commended the institution for this initiative, the first by the only Federal Government University in the FCT, which will study the determinant push and pull factors of migration. “Migration as we know is something that is part of human existence from the beginning of time and when we talk about forced migration, it’s a mixed bag that translates into issues of human trafficking, migrant smuggling and irregular migration.”

The DG emphasized and noted that in geo-politics, issues of migration are also top on the agenda as such studying and researching the various flows and trends is essential. In relation to collaboration between NAPTIP and The Centre, the DG reminded members that National Action Plan (NAP) against Trafficking in Persons (TIP) in Nigeria (2022- 2026) approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in 2022 has specific actions on research around migration.

Other members of Board of the University of Abuja, Centre for Migration Studies include the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, who was represented by Acting DCG Migration Directorate, Angela Esekhaigbe, Head of Department of Geography, H.O.D Economics, Director; Centre for Undergraduate Research, the University’s Liberian, and Dr. Akanbi Adewuyi, Director, Center for Migration Studies.

2023 Women History Month: NAPTIP Recognize Three Outstanding Community Activists

The International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on March 8th. As part of activities to commemorate the 2023 International Women History Month, NAPTIP recognised and awarded three outstanding SGBV community activists. The Community Impact Award Ceremony held on the 10th of March, 2023 at the NAPTIP headquarters in partnership with FCT SGBV Response Team, Justice Research Institute, with funding from the Ford Foundation.

The Activists were honoured for their impactful work, courage and resilience in their various communities. During the ceremony, Prof. Fatima Waziri-Azi shared the work of the activists and the progressive impact they have made in their communities to galvanise social change. “These community activists have over the years devoted their lives to consistently challenge long standing harmful cultural practices; work harmoniously with traditional rulers and men in their communities; encourage and mobilize others to do the same in the defence of their rights and the rights of other women and girls in their respective communities. And we thought it necessary to recognize and honor these women who have devoted their lives to preventing sexual and gender-based violence in rural communities within the FCT and is serving as a role model members of their communities.”  

The DG also emphasised that while government remains committed to advancing effective approaches to keeping all persons safe, most of the efforts to combat gender-based violence and harmful practices will occur at the grassroots level, which is why grassroots initiatives that best respond to incidents with a culturally sensitive approach must be implemented.

The awardees; Amb Gimbiya Hannatu Usman; Ruth anta Obadiah Ibrahim OSU and Buhaira Ibrahim were carefully selected based on the impact and verifiable output of their work. Plaques and certificates were presented to them in recognition of their commitment to prevent Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in Rural Communities within the FCT. The awardees were commended for daring to standout in their communities and encourage other communities to keep up their good work.

You can read their stories here.

Speaking on behalf of the three Awardees, Amb Gimbiya Hannatu, the President of the Wives of the Association of Traditional Rulers, thanked the DG for recognizing their work, stating that it was the first of its kind and a big inspiration to do more. In her words: “With this award, I am inspired to do more” She advised young ladies and married women to imbibe the culture of speaking out and not die in silence.

The District Head of Pigba Community, Chief Amb. Emmanuel A Gade,  who was also present at this occasion, thanked the DG and NAPTIP for recognising the Pigba community. He also commended the Awardees for the important work they do.

Director General NAPTIP, Prof. Fatima Waziri-Azi receives the Sheth International Alumani Award on 14th March 2023

The Director General of NAPTIP, Prof. Fatima Waziri- Azi was named the 2022 Sheth International Young Alumni Achievement Award by her alma mater, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, in August 2022. Each year, the University recognizes a young alumnus for their contributions to global endeavors.

The formal award ceremony, which took place on March 14, 2023, also commemorated a decade of the award itself. The Sheth Award was established in 2012 by the Sheth Family Foundation, founded by Dr. Jagdish N. Sheth (KGSB ’63, ’67) and his wife, Madhu.

The DG, who is a University of Pittsburgh Law graduate ‘11, was conferred with the prestigious award for her work in safeguarding the human rights of the marginalized, especially women and girls, and advocate for and people-centered access to justice.

The award ceremony which held on the 14th of March 2023 at the William Pitt Union, was officially presented by Prof Ronald Brand, Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg Professor of Law and Academic Director at the Centre for International Legal Education, University of Pittsburgh School of Law. “Today we celebrate one of our own, who has intellectually, practically, and personally taken on difficult problems that challenge entrenched groups of people who profit from activities that cause great harm to individuals and society. We celebrate a path breaker, a champion of the oppressed and an innovator of programs designed to improve the lives of the overlooked and the forgotten.” He said.

Prof Waziri-Azi was described by her dissertation advisor, Prof John Burkoff, Emeritus “as an absolutely amazing, impressive, strong, brilliant and determined young woman. I can’t imagine finding another young Pitt Alumni whose recent contribution to international community, through her professional achievement and whose impact on her community and nation are more impressive than those of Fatima Waziri-Azi.”

Prof. Waziri-Azi expressed gratitude to Dr and Mrs Sheth for the award and recognition. She shared her journey from the University of Pittsburgh back to Nigeria and how her education has helped sharpened her research and writing skills and shape her mind.  On the 15th of March 2023, the DG delivered a lecture on Human Trafficking and the Nigerian society at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

In the last decade since the Sheth International Achievement Award was initiated, the DG is the first recipient of the Award from West Africa. The Award ceremony is available to view here. You can also read more here.

NAPTIP Female Officers shine at an All Female Squad Parade in Commemoration of Women History Month; Present Award to Prof. Fatima Waziri-Azi for Excellent Leadership

It was heart-warming to end the women’s history month with an all-female parade at the NAPTIP headquarters. In a remarkable display of solidarity, the all-female squad parade was congregated to honour the Director General, Prof. Fatima Waziri-Azi, who has broken several records within the Agency in terms of Agency output and staff welfare, since she came on board as DG NAPTIP. Read report here.

The Director General’s parade is a ceremony which comprises the NAPTIP Provost Marshal commanding a marching squad with bands, and other synchronized displays, as is expected of Law Enforcement Agencies in Nigeria. The Parade presents an opportunity for the Director General to address Officers of the Agency, update officers on agency matters, and further reiterate the mission of the Agency.

The brilliant display took place on March 30th, 2023 and was led by NAPTIP Chief Intelligence Officer Grace Shok.

In her address to Officers, the DG expressed her profound gratitude for the honor and commended the all-female parade squad for excellent performance. She further updated the officers on the progress made on various pending matters and encouraged officers to keep putting in their best at their jobs.

The Head of NAPTIP Reforms Unit, Dr. (Mrs). Veronica Ulasi, on behalf of the female officers, congratulated the DG for her various strides. At the end of the Parade, the DG was presented with fresh flowers and a plaque by the most senior female Directors of the Agency, Mrs. Susan Ewung, Director Special Duties Department and the Director of Administration Mrs. Benedicta Ojugbana. It was indeed a beautiful event, full of joy and laughter.

NAPTIP Co-Host Phase 2 of the Survivors Support Forum March 2023

The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) on 14th March, 2023, Co-hosted the Survivors Support Forum Phase 2, an initiative of the FCT SGBV Response Team, co-implemented by NAPTIP and Justice Research Institute with funding from Ford Foundation. The Survivors Support Forum supports survivors socially, psychologically and economically through their recovery journey. Psychosocial care and support are interventions and methods that enhance a person’s ability to cope in his or her own context and to achieve personal and social well-being. The specific objectives of psychosocial support programmes are to reduce the impact that stress and emotional distress have on individuals and to strengthen individual and community coping mechanisms and healing processes.

The first phase of the forum was held in November 2022, offered aftercare services and psychosocial support for survivors during and after a traumatic experience, and economic empowerment. Positive feedback from the forum informed the strategic direction and expansion of the phase 2 to include survivors from other shelters across the FCT.  38 Survivors took part in the Forum, and all drawn from NAPTIP shelter, WOTCLEF Shelter, Daughters of Abraham Foundation (DOAF) and the FCT Social Development Secretary (SDS).

In her opening remark, Hadiza Abdulazeez, the Programme Manager of Justice Research Institute (JRI) encouraged the survivors to make the most of the learning outcome. In her words, “the focus of the survivors’ support forum is to provide one-on-one counselling clinic sessions as a response to participants’ feedback from the past forum edition. The Response Team, in partnership with NAPTIP, is committed to playing a crucial role in ensuring women and girls that attend the forum feel heard and listened to, so each forum will be tailormade to fit the support needs of the participants. There will also be the skill acquisition session, which was helpful for the past participants, with 90% of them using the skills learnt to generate revenue, which goes a long way in building financial security”. She expressed sincere appreciation to all partners; the DG of NAPTIP, Prof Fatima Waziri-Azi and her team, who have been central to making the survivor forum a success.

Speaking on the occasion, the Director General of NAPTIP ably represented by the Ag, Director Counselling and Rehabilitation, Mrs. Angela Agbayekhai welcomed all participants and encouraged them to make the most of the forum. The Desk officer of FCT SGBV RT, Mrs. Ike Jacinta also informed participants of the rationale for the training and thanked the Ford Foundation for funding.

The Forum featured two guest Facilitators; Deborah C. Dauda, MA/MPH, PhD Candidate at UMass Boston and Fulbright -Fogarty fellow took survivors on the topic “Practicing Self Preservation through Self-Care for Body Mind and Spirit”.  It covered self-reflective activities and practical discussion on positive affirmation, positive mental attitude, positive coping strategies. During her session, the survivors took turns to share their coping strategies whenever they face difficult situations and what works for them ranging that includes, speaking with a friend, taking a lonely walk, listening to music, going outdoor, swimming, dancing reading or sleeping. She advised them to focus more on what works for them as and practice positive affirmation every day.

The Executive Director, Human Development Initiative, Mrs Olufunsho Owasanoye, emphasised on the need for survivors to be intentional about their happiness because according to her happiness is something that lives within them, given to them by God and no one can take it. She also taught survivors a song to always remind them of this.

The event featured counselling, clinic session affording survivors an opportunity to have a one on one private conversation with counsellors. Expert counsellors were present at this occasion and they gave survivors the opportunity for relief from bad experience and relate their concerns. The practical session was anchored by Mrs. Obiageli Ezeifeke, the CEO of Evakris Concept. Survivors were trained on  how to make hair cream, bleach and perfume.

NAPTIP Revives Partnership with UNICEF: Discuss New Areas of Mutual Collaboration with Country Representative

Section 5 (I) of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2003 (as amended), empowers the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) to collaborate with relevant stakeholders at local, national, regional and international levels in the fight against human trafficking. Between 2004 and 2011 NAPTIP worked closely with UNICEF (particularly, the UNICEF B Office in Lagos) in the Development of Guidelines for the Protection of Children in Formal Care, Creation and Training of Zonal and State Working Group Meetings, especially in Southwestern States of Nigeria and achieving various joint sensitization programmes especially in provision of trade equipment to vocationally proficient victims with business management skills.

As part of efforts to strengthen the relationship between the Agency and UNICEF the Director General of NAPTIP, Prof. Fatima Waziri – Azi, on, Tuesday, March 21st, 2023, played host to UNICEF Child Protection Chief Mr. Ibrahim Sesay at the Agency’s Headquarters, Abuja.

Mr. Sesay expressed his admiration for NAPTIP’s anti-trafficking efforts and wanted UNICEF to renew its Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Agency for a better synergized collaboration. Mr. Sesay commended the DG for the improved visibility of the Agency and stated that UNICEF was opened to supporting NAPTIP scale capacity building for its officers; tackle online child exploitation, and enhance access to justice for children and women, among others.

In her response, NAPTIP DG, Prof. Fatima Waziri – Azi, thanked Mr. Sesay for the renewed collaboration and outlined some of the deliberate and strategic steps taken by the Agency to enhance the protection of children to include, rescue, counselling, psychosocial support, and sheltering of children who are victims of human trafficking, irregular migration, and SGBV. She further shared the impact of the Agency’s partnership with the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and Meta in tackling online child sexual exploitation and child sexual assault materials. The DG assured UNICEF of a robust partnership, adding that protecting children remains a matter of priority to the Agency.

Flag Off of Anti-Trafficking and Violence Against Persons Vanguards in Nigerian Military Secondary Schools: Command Day Secondary School Lungi Barracks Takes the Lead

To create the needed awareness on issues of human trafficking and violence against persons amongst children, the Director General of NAPTIP, Prof. Fatima Waziri-Azi, on Tuesday, March 28th, 2023, flagged off the inauguration NAPTIP Anti-Human Trafficking and Violence Against Person (ATIPVAP) Vanguards in Forty-six (46) Command Day Secondary School in Nigeria, with the inauguration at Command Day Secondary School, Lungi Barracks, Abuja. The event was supported by ICMPD. It was a colourful event with cultural displays, drama and parade by the students of Command Day Secondary School, Lungi Barracks.

In 2022, The Federal Ministry of Education granted NAPTIP the approval to inaugurate ATIPVAP Vanguards in the 110 Federal Government Unity schools across Nigeria, so far 82 Schools have been inaugurated. To extend the reach to other secondary schools in December 2022, the Service Chiefs that is Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff and Chief of Air Staff and the Inspector General of Police, granted NAPTIP approval to inaugurate Vanguards in their secondary schools.

The essence of the ATIPVAP Vanguard is to educate schools’ management, staff and students on the dangers, the red flags and effect of human trafficking and the new trends in human trafficking. The  Vanguard is supervised by one or two teachers in the school.

The inauguration was attended by the Chief of Army Staff represented by Brig. Gen U.A. Mammadi; the school Commandant, Lt. Col M.I. Shafa , the staff and management of the school, students and the representative of ICMPD. In her remarks, the DG appreciated the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) for keying into NAPTIP’S strategic vision by approving the inauguration of the NAPTIP ATIPVAP in military schools around the country. She enlightened the students, teachers, parents, and all dignitaries on the activities of the Agency and the need for all of society’s approach in the fight Against Human Trafficking and Violence Against Persons.

The DG stressed the essence of the Vanguard as a platform where young people can educate and sensitize themselves on issues of Human Trafficking and Violence Against Persons. She concluded her speech with her popular quote; “There is no free lunch. If it is free, then you are the product”.

The event also featured enlightenment on human trafficking and violence against persons by the Director of Public Enlightenment, Mr. Josiah Emerole, who elaborately took the students on the concepts, types and modus operandi of human trafficking. During his session, in line with the Agency’s age-appropriate approach, the NAPTIP Teenage Ambassador, Maryam Babatunde spoke to the students on smart usage of the internet and shared the NAPTIP Internet Safety Pledge with the students to which they all affirmed to. NAPTIP Internet Safety Pledge

The event continued with a physical expression of pledge coordinated by Mrs. Olufunsho Owasanoye, Executive Director of Human Development Initiative. The session was designed to reaffirm the learning outcome of the day with a Pledge Banner featuring statement of promise to pledge to stop all forms of human trafficking and violence against persons.

The event ended with the unveiling of a billboard posted in front of the school and unveiled by the Director General as a sign of NAPTIP’s presence in the school.

Director General of NAPTIP – Prof. Fatima Waziri-Azi Delivers The 6th Distinguished Leadership Lecture at The University Of Abuja Leadership Centre with the Theme “leadership in Crises: Tackling the Scourge of Human Trafficking in Nigeria”

On Wednesday 29th March, 2023, the Vice Chancellor, University of Abuja, Prof. Abdul-Rasheed Na’Allah, played host to the Director General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP). Prof Fatima Waziri-Azi as she became the first woman to deliver the annual leadership lecture at the University of Abuja. 850 students, faculty members and Directors and Officers of NAPTIP attended the lecture.

The Leadership Series is an initiative by the University of Abuja Leadership Centre that brings experts from academia, governance, and industries to examine different themes of national relevance. Prof. Waziri–Azi delivered the 6th Distinguished Leadership Series titled “Leadership in Crises: Tackling the Scourge of Human Trafficking in Nigeria”.

The 45 minutes lecture focused on the mandate of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), the enormity of human trafficking in Nigeria, and the experience of the DG as a person occupying a position of leadership and the adaptive nature of tackling human trafficking as it relates to exercising leadership. The DG concluded her lecture by sharing lessons about leadership, in her words,  “the most essential quality for a person occupying a position of leadership is credibility; people must trust you as a person and you must be authentic, admit to your fault when the situation arises. Own it.”

The lecture featured a vibrant, interactive session followed by the symbolic raising of the Red Card as a sign of solidarity by the University Community to continue to join forces with NAPTIP in the fight against human trafficking and violence against persons. The highlight of the day was the presentation of the distinguished Leadership Award to the Director–General of NAPTIP.

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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