Dr Fatima Waziri – Azi said that it is clearly evident that Trafficking in Persons offences created under the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, (TIPPEA) 2015, are serious offences which have a nexus with national security and stability of the nation and as such require the full cooperation of both the Bar and the bench in addressing the menace.
The Director General stated this in Abuja at the commencement of a two day Judges and Prosecutors Conference on Human Trafficking.
The conference is a component of a project funded by the European Union and implemented by the International and Ibero – American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies (FIIAPP) under the Action Against Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants in Nigeria (A-TIPSOM).
It would be recalled that Dr Fatima Waziri – Azi, had listed the increased prosecution of high profile cases among her major priorities on assumption of office in September 2021. Impressively, she has continued to matched words with actions as no fewer than four high profile traffickers across the World are currently been prosecuted by the Agency in partnership with sister Law Enforcement Agencies in the target destination Countries.
The NAPTIP Director General told the participants that “The objective of this conference is to create awareness among legal practitioners and the Judiciary on the current ills and trends of Human Trafficking as well as analyse the various elements of TIP offences thereby, ensuring seamless investigation, effective prosecution and more conviction of human trafficking cases.
“To create an avenue whereby the Judges and Prosecutors share experience on issues of Human Trafficking and Smuggling of Migrants for a better understanding of the crime and proffering ways of addressing it. To encourage strict punishment to offenders of Human Trafficking and Smuggling of Migrants by Courts to serve as deterrent to offenders.
“To encourage the award of compensation and restitution to Victims of Human Trafficking by the Courts across the Country. To sensitize Judges on the ills of Human Trafficking and Smuggling of Migrants in Nigeria.”
She pointed out that at the end of the well – attended conference which was the first of its kind since the establishment of the Agency, NAPTIP hoped to get increased efficiency in the Prosecution and Justice Administration of cases of Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling in Courts across the Country.
“Improved protection for Victims of Human Trafficking by the Courts. Increase awareness on the effect of Trafficking in Persons to the society. Increase output on the conviction rate in cases of Trafficking in persons and Smuggling of Migrants.
“Increased Knowledge on Trafficking in Persons offences amongst the Judges and Prosecutors as well as enhance speedy dispensation of justice especially on human trafficking cases”, Dr Waziri – Azi stated.
While appreciated the European Union and FIIAPP for funding the project and the National Judicial Institute (NJI) for its roles in actualizing the initiative, Dr, Waziri Azi described the A-TIPSOM as a reliable project in the fight against human trafficking in Nigeria.
Speaking at the conference, Team Leader, A-TIPSOM, Mr. Rafeal Rios Molino said the conference was designed to enhance interface between prosecutors and Judges in order to accelerate prosecution of human trafficking cases and ensure that justice is diligently served on perpetrator.
He promised that FIIAPP shall continue to support any initiative aimed at eradicating human trafficking in Nigeria.
In his speech at the Conference, the Administrator of the National Judicial Institute (NJI), Hon. Justice Salisu Garba Abdullahi, acknowledged the synergy between NJI and NAPTIP which according to him has contributed in expanding the knowledge base of our Judicial Officers.
“The workshop could not have come at a better time given the critical role the judiciary has been playing in resolving emerging challenges faced in resolving issues of trafficking in persons Nigeria.
“It will not be out of place to say that NAPTIP faces an uphill task in surmounting challenges of trafficking in persons, especially in the current state of the economy. This year’s retreat presents yet another opportunity for the participants to refresh and update their knowledge on current issues bothering on trafficking in persons.
“It is a vital fact that this kind of interactions between the Judiciary and NAPTIP are necessary, as the critical role the Judiciary is expected to play in resolving emerging challenges faced in resolving these issues of trafficking in persons Nigeria is brought to the front burner for discussion.
“My Lords, Distinguished Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen, trafficking in persons are global crimes which require a global effort to fight it effectively. Also, the political and economic crises in various parts of the world including Nigeria has amplified trafficking in persons both locally and international especially as victims are trying to find a better life. Therefore, stakeholders must synergize to tackle the rising menace that this development throws up and curb this ugly trend.
“I have no doubt that the Judiciary is fully aware of the weighty responsibilities hanging on its shoulders, and it will not rest on its oars as we continue to strive to do our best in the prevailing circumstance to discharge them with vigor, truth and dignity”, the Administrator of the NJI said.
Several lectures were delivered at the conference which include a well – researched paper titled “Admissibility of Electronic Evidence in cases of Human Trafficking: Current Practice, Opportunities and Challenges”, “The Admissibility of Electronic Evidence in Human Trafficking under the Nigeria Law and “Trafficking in Person and Smuggling of Migrant trials in Spain and Judicial Cooperation between Spain and Nigeria”, which were delivered by an internationally acclaimed Legal luminary, Professor Yemi Akinseye – George, SAN.
Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Advance Legal Studies (NIALS), Professor Tawfiq Ladan also delivered papers at the conference.
The conference afforded NAPTIP prosecutors the opportunity of interacting with Judges and clarify some of the technical issues encounter in the course of prosecuting human trafficking cases.
Press Officers, NAPTIP
26th May 2022