The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and Meta (Owner of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp) have partnered on measures that would facilitate quick recovery of missing children in Nigeria with the use of technology. An expansion in the partnership, which started in 2020, led to the official launch of AMBER Alert in Nigeria on 28th September 2022. The AMBER Alert programme is aimed at helping find abducted children by sending AMBER Alert to the local Facebook and Instagram community within a 160 kilometer radius from where the child is last seen. Also enabling them to share the information instantly with friends or contact the authorities if they have leads.
The Launch of AMBER Alert has placed Nigeria on the global Map as the second country in Africa to have the AMBER Alert programme. Leveraging on Meta’s advanced technology will help locate and reunite abducted children with their families on a faster and larger scale. AMBER Alert includes important information about the missing child, such as a photo description, location of the abduction, and other relevant and available information to aid in immediately identifying the missing child.
Speaking at the event, Adaora Ikenze, Head of Public Policy, Anglophone West Africa, Meta, expressed optimism about the future of this partnership in helping recover missing children. According to her, “The value of technology lies in its ability to drive solutions for real-life problems”. She invites the public, particularly Facebook and Instagram Users to join forces with NAPTIP and Meta to make the dream work, noting that the overarching aim is to galvanize the community by leveraging technology to get the right information to the right audience at the right time. “If you see AMBER Alert, please pay attention,” she emphasised.
Also speaking at this event, the Director, Trust & Safety, Meta, Emily Vacher, thanked the Director General, Dr. Fatima Waziri-Azi for such an important milestone in the history of Africa. Stating that as of today, Nigeria becomes the 29th country in the world and 2nd in Africa to join the Meta Amber Alert Programme. Vacher shared the story of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was kidnapped in 1996 while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas, and then brutally murdered. This, she informed, shaped the motivation for the Amber Alert. Back then she stated only a few people were connected to the internet, hence information about missing children like Amber was only shared in the Newspapers and evening television programmes with low success stories. 25 years later, things have changed, with technology there is more internet traffic in seconds and information can reach millions of people within a comparatively short time. “It takes a village to raise a child and to protect one,” she emphasised. She also expressed delight that more people will now be able to get an alert once NAPTIP receives any report regarding a missing child.
Speaking at the launch, Dr. Waziri-Azi, Director General of NAPTIP, thanked the Meta for a very fluid partnership which led to the launch of the Amber Alert in Nigeria. She stated that a child being abducted is a parent’s worst nightmare, which is why swift and collective response to abduction cases is key to finding missing children. With these alerts, communities will instantly be galvanized to assist in the search for and safe recovery of a missing child. She further expressed her excitement over NAPTIP’s innovative partnership with Meta because she believes it would impact NAPTIP’s investigative and rescue efforts.
Dr Waziri shared the context of NAPTIP’s mandate as it relates to issues of missing children as provided for in section 21 of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015 criminalizes all forms of buying and selling of children and further share the enormity of the problem of abduction of children in Nigeria. “Across the country, we have seen an increase in the abduction of children, and in the past year, NAPTIP has recovered 13 abducted children, out of which 12 were reunited with their parents”, she stated.
She also added that for this Amber Alert programme to be effective, we all have to commit ourselves and remain alert and responsive to these emergency broadcasts for missing children.
The Director-General thanked the Meta team for seeing the partnership through and she looks forward to a mutually beneficial partnership, one which would be long-term and impactful.
The event climaxed in the question-and-answer session where the Media and participants engaged with NAPTIP and Meta about the future of AMBER Alert Nigeria.