Director General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Dr. Fatima Waziri- Azi, has called on Judges across the Country to ensure that human trafficking offenders and perpetrators of Sexual and Gender Based Violence are served with sentencing that are commensurable with the magnitude of offences committed in order to send message and serve as major deterrent.
She said that because some of the offenders often gone home with light sentencing in the past, the Agency now records cases of repeat offenders which poses a grave danger to the dimension of human trafficking in the Country.
The Director General stated this in Abuja while delivering lecture titled, “Human Trafficking: An Appraisal of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015: Challenges and Prospect”, at a 2-Day Capacity Building Workshop of the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJN) in collaboration with the National Judicial Institute (NJI).
Dr. Fatima Waziri – Azi, who held the participants spellbound as she reels out the painful testimonies of victims of human trafficking, submitted that Judges have indispensable roles to play in the eradication of human trafficking, curtailing of incidence of rape and minimizing the rising cases of sexual and gender based violence in the Country.
She said it is important to be adequately acquitted with the provisions of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015 (TIPPEA) because “The aim of the Act as stated in section 1 is to provide an effective and comprehensive legal and institutional frame work for the prohibition, prevention, detection, prosecution and punishment of human trafficking and related offences in Nigeria, protect victims of human trafficking; and promote and facilitate national and international cooperation”
“I am pleading with you all my Lords, the Judges to always consider the stiffer penalties and convictions that are commensurable with the magnitude of crime. This is very important as it serves as deterrent and it will assuage the trauma of the victims”, the NAPTIP Director General said.
She enumerated some of the operational challenges face by the Agency to include low reportage, the relationship between suspects and victims, lack of cooperation from the source/vulnerable communities, difficulty of procuring witnesses from remote areas, unavailability of Lawyers to take up civil cases on behalf of victims on Pro-Bono basis, thus making it difficult for victims to get compensation from their traffickers.
Despite the challenges above, Dr Fatima Waziri – Azi, disclosed that the Agency has convicted a total of 519 traffickers, rescued and counselled 17, 727 victims, sponsored 17 victims to higher institution out of which 3 were employed in the service of the Agency, established 20 State Task Forces across the Country and increased partnership with diver stakeholders with a reloaded advocacy and sensitization.
Earlier in his speech, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed, CFR, said Sexual and Gender Based Violence against women are severe human right violations that must be addressed with all the seriousness it deserves adding that the roles of female judges in the adjudication of gender base issues cannot be over emphasized.
At the first technical session chaired by the Hon. Justice Amina Augie, Justice of the Supreme Court, the female judges were particularly angered that while victims of human trafficking and other abuses are left in a pitiable traumatic state and nursing their wounds inflicted upon them by heartless traffickers having been exploited, the traffickers are often pampered erroneously or unintentionally with light sentencing.
They resolved that efforts should be made by presiding judges to consider the plight and exploitation of victims in deciding the cases of human trafficking and domestic violence thereby overlooking some of the salient technicalities which often deny them adequate justice.
While commending the Director General of NAPTIP for her tireless efforts in the fight against human trafficking in Nigeria, the female Judges called for synergy among Law Enforcement Agencies in the Country as well as advocacy and awareness in order to reduce the vulnerability of the people and get the Judges properly informed on all emerging counter trafficking legal frameworks.
The Workshop was attended by Female Judges, Prosecutors, Development partners including the Action Against Trafficking and Smuggling of Migrants (A-TIPSOM) and other stakeholders across the Country.
20th June 2022