NAPTIP Presents Scorecard At The Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja
The Director General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Dr. Fatima Waziri – Azi, has presented the scorecard of the Agency saying that it has rescued and rehabilitated over 17, 727 victims, convicted 511 traffickers and established 20 state task forces on human trafficking across the Country.
Similar, the Agency has witnessed a national spread to 27 States in Nigeria, reloaded sustained awareness creation across the Country with increased partnership and collaboration with regional and international partners which has culminated in bilateral agreements with neighboring countries to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons especially women and children while 11 Mutual Legal Assistance cases involving high profile and trans-border human trafficking suspects are currently ongoing.
The session which focused on key updates in the efforts being made by the Agency in the arrest and prosecution of high-profile individuals involved in human trafficking, domestic violence and other related offences in Nigeria, was the 37th edition of the State House briefing Series held at the State House Press Gallery, beside the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja on Thursday 12th May, 2022 organized by the Presidential Communications Team with over 50 Media Practitioners drawn from local, international and foreign media in attendance and was streamed live on the new media.
The State House briefing is designed to provide a platform for Senior Government officials to discuss their policy initiatives in great details whilst fielding questions from cross section of both international and national media houses.
In her presentation, Dr. Fatima Waziri – Azi, highlighted the counter trafficking efforts of the Agency, laudable policies and programmes initiated and approved by the Government of Nigeria as well as preventive strategies put in place in providing solutions to human trafficking issues in Nigeria.
She gave an overview of human trafficking perspective in Nigeria, forms of human trafficking, drivers of human trafficking, scope and trends in human trafficking, Nigeria’s response to issues of trafficking in persons, operational structure of the Agency, the milestones, geographical prevalence of human trafficking and concluded with the outlined operational challenges hindering the activities of NAPTIP.
The Director General pointed out that “Human Trafficking in Nigeria is both Internal and External with a higher rate of Internal trafficking than the external. Internal trafficking involves trafficking of a person within a State that is, from one community to another and across State lines. The purpose of internal trafficking is usually for sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, forced labor, debt bondage, child labour, illegal adoption and buying and selling of human beings.
“External trafficking of persons on the other hand is carried out outside our borders. Sexual exploitation, labour exploitation and organ trafficking are the major purpose for external trafficking. Human trafficking in Nigeria is not a problem but a national crisis as the volume is enormous and widespread. No State is immune to it”.
While identifying some major causes of human trafficking to include poverty, greed, ignorance, conflict and wars as well as porous borders, Dr Fatima Wazizi – Azi listed trends in human trafficking as Orphanage trafficking, Baby Factories, Use of victims for other crimes (Drug Courier), Q-Net or Q-Link,Illegal Adoption, Cryptic Pregnancy, Buying and selling of children, Hunting- involving a trafficker actively pursuing a victim, typically on social media, Fishing- when perpetrators post fake job advertisements and fake scholarships and wait for potential victims to respond, Adverts on non-existing football clubs in some middle east countries and Using global sports fiestas to lure out their victims.
The DG enumerated the milestones recorded by the Agency to include the unveiling of 3 vital Counter Trafficking documents namely National Action Plan on Human trafficking in Nigeria (2022-2026), National Policy on Protection and Assistance to Trafficked Persons in Nigeria as well as Protocol for Identification, Safe Return and Rehabilitation of Trafficked Persons.
On the counter trafficking preventive effort of the Agency, she told the media practitioners that “We carry out awareness campaigns and sensitization deliberately designed to educate people about human trafficking, its violence and what drives it, especially at the sub-national levels. We do this through- community-centered awareness creation, survivor’s advocacy campaign, school campaigns, digital media campaign and traditional media campaigns, Establishment of secondary school vanguards, Rolling out the Trafficking in persons curricula in all the schools nationwide, Infusion of Trafficking in Persons issues into the Minimum Standards of Colleges of Education with the collaboration of the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE).
“We Revived NAPTIP on the Move TV Docu-Series, Revived the quarterly newsletter – NAPTIPNEWS; Launch of the programme ”THE CONVERSATION WITH NAPTIP”. A digital forum using virtual platforms and live streamed via all our social media platforms visibility of all NAPTIP’s reporting channels, Reform of the NAPTIP Drama Club: creation of visual content aimed at helping to educate the public on TIP; ensure continuous Capacity building and sensitization for various stakeholders and partners on trafficking e.g the media, NURTW, Judges and Prosecutors, FBO and Periodic research works into the causes, trends and patterns of TIP in Nigeria”, The DG Stated.
She revealed further that NAPTIP has rescued over 17, 727 victims since its inception, sponsored 16 of them to University, employed 3, convicted 511traffickers with increased partnership across the World.
NAPTIP has “Rescue, sheltered and rehabilitated over 17,727 victims of human trafficking, 4,727 Males and 13,026 Females, 8,935 children and 8,818 are adults, 15,922 Nigerians and 1,805 Non-Nigerians(China, Libya, Lebanon, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Central African Republic, Ghana, Benin Republic, Guinea Conakry, Togo, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Chad, Cot D Ivoire and Mali. Others are Senegal, Niger Republic, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Gabon. NAPTIP has sponsored 16 VoT to Universities across the country. 3 of such graduates are now officers of NAPTIP”.
The Agency has” 9,813 cases reported, 8,005 suspected traffickers arrested, 511 Convictions (14 convictions in 2022), 261 ongoing cases in various courts across the country, 11 ongoing Mutual Legal Assistance cases. Out of the 11, 2 cases are currently being prosecuted in court (Lagos and Benin)”
NAPTIP collaborates with local, regional and international stakeholders to ensure the elimination and prevention of the root causes of human trafficking. Between October and December 2021 Nigeria signed Bilateral Agreements to prevent, suppress and punish, trafficking in persons, especially women and children, with the Republic of Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and a Memorandum of Understanding with the Republic of Niger. We have pending MOU with The Gambia, and South Africa
“The Agency has inaugurated Task Forces against Human Trafficking in 20 states. The Task forces are co-chaired by the State Attorneys-General and Commissioners of Justice and NAPTIP”.
The NAPTIP Director General told the media that the Agency has entered into partnership with Facebook and the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in order to enhance tracing and diligent investigation of all cases relating to online child abuse, human trafficking and other related crimes.
The Agency will have unrestricted access to millions of information around the world that would help tackle online recruitment, trafficking, exploitation of victims. It will also help to detect persons who use social media platforms to electronically distribute pornographic materials to either blackmail or exploit children.
She disclosed that between September 2021 and May 5th 2022, the Agency has received 27,094 reports from Facebook on sextortion (child exploitation) from Nigeria using the different social media platforms. While the amber Alert Nigeria will be launched in June, 2022.
On the mirage of challenges facing the Agency, Dr Fatima Waziri – Azi said “Besides oath taking, traffickers now make their victims swear nude on arrival at destination country; the video recordings are used to threaten the victims, if they don’t cooperate. With COVID-19, there was a shift from physical recruitment to virtual recruitment with an increase in fake online job advertorials and fake scholarships.
“Also, the relationship between suspects and victims poses a challenge to effective investigation and prosecution as victims are unwilling to testify against their traffickers since they are sometimes relatives or friends. And this seriously hampers our prosecutorial efforts and conviction rates.
“Jurisdiction is a challenge to prosecutors. Due to the transnational nature of TIP as a human rights violations which may have occurred over a period and across different jurisdictions with some key culprits or victims/witnesses spread across various jurisdictions
“Low crime reporting – the public most times do not report incidents of trafficking in persons and this reduces the chances of tracing and arresting the suspects. Inadequate knowledge of human trafficking by sister Law Enforcement Agencies despite all the capacity development given over the years by NAPTIP and her partners. As a result, they still treat human trafficking cases with the Criminal Code instead of a recourse to NAPTIP.
“Unavailability of Lawyers ready 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; As a result of the renewed visibility of the Agency a new challenge has also come in as people now cry wolf in order to get urgent help from the Agency thereby putting a lot of stress on the Agency and its meagre resources.
“Insecurity is a challenge and hampers the agency’s work in terms of operations, sensitization, rescue and assistance”, the Director General declared.
She concluded by calling on Nigerians to join hands with the Agency in its effort at eradicating the menace of human trafficking in the Country.
“As I conclude, it is important to point out that Trafficking in persons has become an issue of global concern dominating public discourse at every forum which is why we must continue to spotlight issues of human trafficking. I implore everyone to please show solidarity and support in preventing this horrible crime. Victims of human trafficking need our empathy and support; stigmatization of victims should be discouraged on all fronts- we should treat victims as victims, not as criminals.
“Greater success will demand greater engagement of not only the Government of Nigeria but also of all of society. I therefore solicit continued support from all stakeholders, as everybody has a responsibility. This is an issue which must concern every person, every community, and every business because it is, in many ways, the yardstick of a just and equitable society”, Dr. Waziri Azi submitted.
The National Press briefing was attended by member of the Presidential Communications Team namely Mr. Femi Adesina (Senior Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity), Mr. Garba Shehu (Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity) and Ms. Lauretta Onochie (Senior Special Assistant to the President on New Media)
On the entourage of the DG to the Presidential Villa, venue of the Press Conference Director of Public Enlightenment, Mr. Josiah Emerole, Director Counseling and Rehabilitation, Mrs. Kehinde Akomolafe and Director, Investigation & Monitoring, Mr. Daniel Atokolo.
Press Officer (Press and Public Relations Unit)
12th May 2022