By Ajibola Abayomi,
The Federal Government of Nigeria has recorded another feat in its renewed determination to tackle issues of human trafficking with the active involvement of neighboring Countries, as it signs a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Burkina Faso to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons especially women and children.
A statement issued by Vincent Adekoye, the Press Officer o the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP) explained that the legal instrument designed to unleash intense heat on human traffickers and their cohort operating within the corridors of the two Countries was signed in Abuja at the climax of the 3rd Nigeria /Burkina Faso Joint Commission held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja and was witnessed by an array of dignitaries from both Counties including the Director General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Dr Fatima Waziri – Azi.
The development came few weeks after similar agreement was signed between Nigeria and the Government of the Republic of Niger.
The MOU stated that “CONCERNED with the magnitude and menace of human trafficking especially in women and children in both countries and its negative socio-economic impact on the wellbeing of their citizenry;
“RE-AFFIRMING that the commitment and obligations of both parties to the implementation of the ECOWAS plan of Action Against Trafficking in persons 2002-2003 and the following ratified international Legal instruments:
“REALIZING that the fight against human trafficking especially women and children across borders can efficiently and effectively be fought only if the country of origin, transit and destination countries adopt a common comprehensive approach;
“DETERMINED to mobilize necessary efforts and resources to punish all those engaged in human trafficking especially in women and children by prosecuting their crimes wherever they occur by co-operating at the international level;
“CONSCIOUS of the fundamental principle of the best interest of the child and the need to assist the victims of human trafficking, especially women and children.”
The well drafted legal instrument contained a total of 18 articles among which are the Definition of Human trafficking with all the elements, Prosecution of offenders, Communication, Identifications, Protection and Care of Victims of human trafficking, Return, Repatriation of Proceeds of the Crime as well as Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Victims.
In his speech, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Gabriel Tanimu Aduda, stated that the agreement was part of the Federal Government of Nigeria effort to enhance mutual cooperation and strengthen relationship between the two Countries.
He assured stakeholders that the contents of the Memorandum of Understanding will be fully implemented in line with the approved procedures.
Also in her speech, the Director General of the Burkina Faso Bilateral Cooperation, Mrs. Bakyonon Kanzie, thanked the Federal Government of Nigeria for the agreement saying the her Country shall implement all aspects of the agreement to the benefits of Nigeria and Burkina Faso.
While the Nigeria Ambassador to Burkina Faso, His Excellency, Mistura Abdukarheem signed on behalf of Nigeria, the Burkina Faso Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency, Piabie Firmin N’DO signed un behalf of the Burkina Faso Government.
In her reaction, Director General of NAPTIP, Dr Fatima Waziri – Azi who was visibly elated by the development said the MOU remains a major onslaught on the activities of human traffickers not only within the routes of the two Countries, but the entire West African sub-region.
The NAPTIP boss whose strategic focus of operation aligned with the articles of the MOU thanked President Muhammadu Buhari, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiq Umar Farouk, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and other State and Non – State Actors for the clear demonstration of political will to tackle incidence of Human Trafficking as exemplified through the signing of the MOU and assured that NAPTIP shall continue to work assiduously to fulfil its mandates of combating human trafficking and all forms of violence against persons in the Country.
Bilateral Agreement was also signed in the areas of Sports development, Trade and Investment, Information and Media, ICT as well as Women Development.