In a clear demonstration of renewed commitment and commendable political will, the Federal Government of Nigeria has promised to scale efforts and double its strategies in the area of prosecution, prevention, protection, policy, and partnership toward the eradication of human trafficking in Nigeria.
The Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo SAN, (GCON) gave the commitment on the occasion of the grand finale of the 2022 World Day Against Human Trafficking organized by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) held at the Ladi Kwali Hall of the Sheraton Hotel, Abuja.
The event which had in attendance members of the Diplomatic Communities, Heads of Ministries, Department and Agencies, Representatives of Development Partners, Members of the Civil Society Organization (CSOs) Representatives of other Law Enforcement Agencies, members of Research Institutions and Academic Communities and the media, was the most exciting as both the United States of America and other partners rated NAPTIP high in its counter trafficking efforts.
The Vice President who was represented by the Deputy Chief of Staff to the President, Office of the Vice President, Mr. Adeola Rahman Ipaye specifically commended the Director General of NAPTIP, Dr Fatima Waziri – Azi, for her exemplary leadership role and her unparalleled commitment to the eradication of human trafficking in Nigeria.
The Vice President said “Human trafficking remains a great threat to the human capital of any nation and its overall economic development. The challenges we jointly face in tackling it are enormous because these are complex and diverse, and requires proactive interventions.
“It is on record that this administration has continued to deploy the necessary political will in the fight against human trafficking by providing the necessary direction and support to NAPTIP and other critical stakeholders to make Nigeria a Human Trafficking Free Nation. Surely, we shall continue to do more.
“This is clearly demonstrated in the recent approval by the Federal Executive Council of three key policy documents; the National Action Plan on Human Trafficking (2022-2026); National Policy for Protection and Assistance to Victims of Trafficking in Persons and the Protocol for Identification, Safe Return and Reintegration of Trafficked Persons. I am certain these policy documents will continue to set the agenda on important conversations and to streamline activities towards the interruption and reversal of human trafficking.
“As part of our counter-trafficking efforts to address factors fueling human trafficking in Nigeria, the present administration, through the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, has intentionally mainstreamed youths and women into its various social investment interventions in order to reduce their vulnerability and challenge those fundamental inequalities that leaves them more open to the antics of human traffickers.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, in order to ensure the safety of Nigerians, especially those genuinely seeking labour opportunities outside Nigeria, The Federal Government Standard Procedure for International Recruitment and NAPTIP’s Trafficking in Persons Control of Activities of Organizations and Centres, Regulation 2019 empowers NAPTIP to regulate, control and issue clearance certificates to all travel agents, tour operators and intending travelers for educational excursion, recruitment of labour, sporting activities, cultural and musical excursion or competitions. All organizations, shelters and homes offering services for the rehabilitation of trafficked persons, will also ensure that persons who seek to temporarily migrate are not exploited.
“Furthermore, to foster cooperation in this effort, Nigeria has signed several agreements with neighbouring countries to stem the tide of trafficking in persons in the region. I am aware, for instance, that NAPTIP recently signed an MOU with its counterpart in The Gambia to enhance cooperation, strengthen bilateral relations and ease coordination of operations towards curbing human trafficking.
“Let me also note that the recommendations of the 22nd Trafficking in Persons report on human trafficking released on July 19, 2022 by the United States Government, which is geared towards stimulating actions and creating partnerships, is very well received. All recommendations for Nigeria have been noted and, as a country, we will continue to scale our efforts in the area of prosecution, prevention, protection, policy, and partnership”, the Vice President said.
In her address, the Director General of NAPTIP, Dr Fatima Waziri – Azi, outlined some of the recent achievements of the Agency and assured dignitaries that the Agency will continue to work assiduously through the deployment of appropriate strategies to outsmart the traffickers.
Dr. Fatima Waziri – Azi said “while technology is frequently misused to facilitate trafficking in persons, its positive use helps in combating trafficking and support anti-trafficking work, such as aiding investigations that in turn enhances prosecutions, and scaling awareness campaigns.
“Your Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, to share some of our recent activities: On June 23rd, my team and I paid a courtesy visit to His Royal Majesty, the Oba of Benin and sequel to this visit His Royal Majesty advised NAPTIP partner with the Oba Palace Taskforce to strengthen interventions at the community level and this has led to the setting-up of the NAPTIP-Oba Palace Task force. This joint task force has begun its work by progressively conducting awareness creation and community dialogues in 3 endemic local government areas of Edo State to scale awareness against human trafficking, smuggling of migrants and irregular migration.
“Communities in the 3 targeted local government areas would be covered in the first phrase of this project. During the same visit, we commissioned a brand-new 28 bed space capacity shelter for survivors of human trafficking for NAPTIP’s Benin Zonal Command. The shelter was graciously built by the UK Home Office Modern Day Slavery Nigeria Program.
“In the same token, this past June we began a nationwide establishment of Trafficking in Persons and Violence Against Persons Vanguard across the one hundred and ten Federal Government Secondary School and we have established in 28 Secondary School in the past month. The Vanguard is intended to increase the capacity of students to identify and report incidents of human trafficking and Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, in and outside schools, and raise a generation of young people empowered to advocate against these crimes and promote safe migration as an option rather than irregular migration. We can do a lot of prevention work just by opening their eyes to the problem.
“On June 29, 2022, Nigeria and The Gambia, signed an MoU to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children. This is the 4th Bi-lateral agreement and MOU Nigeria has signed between October 2021 and June 2022.
“In the area of prosecution, since inception, the Agency has secured 530 convictions and 36 convictions and counting for 2022.
Now, as an organization evolves, it needs to continually look inwards to find new and innovative solutions and ideas to improve organizational processes and performance. Which Is why for the first time since the establishment of NAPTIP, the HQ is currently in the middle of an independent in-depth organizational evaluation for efficiency, effectiveness and the economics of our operations.
“This SWOT assessment will help us gauge the value of our current processes, governance, and our people and identify areas we are excelling in and where we can improve. It will help us identify improvement initiatives which we can implement in the short term, and inform our future strategy to transform NAPTIP to its rightful place as a leading agency in Nigeria.
“Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, in terms of deliberate and targeted intervention to curb cybercrime, NAPTIP is taking a range of steps towards achieving a strong response in tackling these crime”, the Director General said.
In her speech, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, commended the Director General and Officers of the Agency for the increased zeal and commitment in the fight against human trafficking in the Country.
She said “Since becoming the British High Commissioner to Nigeria in 2018, I have made it clear that we must do all we can to tackle the issues of trafficking in persons and continue raising awareness.
The people who engage in this crime do not discriminate along ethnic, religious or political lines, it affects all levels of society. That is why today of all days, it is important to shine a light on the ways in which technology can influence and combat trafficking in persons.
“I want to commend Dr. Fatima Waziri – Azi and the Staff and Officers of NAPTIP. All of you deserve enormous credit for not only hosting this event, but also more broadly for continuing your vital work”, the British High Commissioner said.
In her speech, Head of region, International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), West Africa, Dr. Mojisola Sodeinde tasked stakeholders and partners on the need to do more in order to tackle the menace of human trafficking effectively.
She said “How can we stop human trafficking, it is the greatest human rights challenge of our time? Men, women, and children are forced, trafficked or threatened into slavery – selling sex or their labour for someone else’s financial gain. It happens everywhere. People see this terrible crime and respond with emotions, but we need to do more than that, we need to apply social scientific methods to the study of the problem.
“We need to analyze how human trafficking works, who is involved? How do they operate? What is their motivation? We need to identify points where we can intervene, develop effective strategies of interventions, and test those strategies and continue to refine our approach. For example, we can look at sex trafficking as a business model. The traffickers are doing it because they can make money. There is supply and demands. The model shows us the actors in the process, and we can determine where to intervene.
“How can we reduce supply? These are people who are vulnerable to exploitation because of poverty and inequality. Can we work for social justice to reduce inequality? Can we educate potential victims to increase awareness and reduce their vulnerability? Can we go after the criminal actors and increase the risk of doing business by challenging policies, increasing penalties and giving law enforcement the tools, they need to recognize and investigate trafficking? Can we decrease the demand for commercial sex by working to change our culture, by educating young men, changing the culture of sexualisation of minors and tolerating the purchase of sex from victims. We need sound strategy to bring robust analysis and, logic and good social science to bear on the problem”, She stated.
Speaking also, the United State Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, stated that Human Trafficking affects the entire Society, hence the need to join hands and tackle the menace.
While commending the Agency for outstanding performance since the past one year, the US Ambassador explained that the annual US Trafficking in Person Report which rates nations of the World on level of minimum compliance to the eradication of human trafficking, is not design to criticize Governments, but to promote efforts of various Actors and minimize incidence of human trafficking globally.
In the same vein, the United Nations Resident Coordinator to Nigeria, Matthias Schmale described human trafficking as a horrific crime that requires joint collaboration and sustained partnership in order to eradicate it.
National President of the Network Against Child Trafficking, Abuse and Labour (NACTAL), Mr. Abdulganiyu Abubakar, called on the Federal Government to increase budgetary allocation and other support to NAPTIP to aid the fight against human trafficking in Nigeria.
Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Mr. Isah Idris Jere said “The theme of this year’s event is equally apt especially now that technology has become like a double-edged sword that can be deployed variously by individuals and organizations to achieve a variety of objectives. Today, access to technology has assumed a key concern among policy makers and governments. While governments and organized civil society groups are exploring technological advancement to improve human and capital development, include safer migration, criminal elements are on the other hand, leveraging on it for sinister and heinous purposes. For instance, as society embraces the potentials of social media in promoting democracy, freedom of expression and human mobility, the tool is fast assuming a veritable tool for facilitating the recruitment and promotion of human trafficking and Smuggling of Migrants”.
He promised more collaboration with NAPTIP.
Highpoint of the well – attended event was the final of the Inter-Agency debate between the Veritas and Baze Universities. At the end of the impressive debate, Baze University won the debate.
The event was the climax of the week-long activities marking the 2022 World Day Against Human Trafficking.
Press Officer, NAPTIP