A KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY THE ZONAL COMMANDER OF THE NATIONAL AGENCY FOR THE PROHIBITION OF TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS, NAPTIP LAGOS ZONAL COMMAND,DANIEL ATOKOLO AT THE JIFORM MIGRTION SUMMIT ON SATURDAY 4TH, APRIL 2020.
It gives me great pleasure to be part of this event organized by a distinguished group of journalist around theglobe.
2. Today’s event is special to us in NAPTIP as an Agency of Government becausepartnership in combatting human trafficking by all critical agent of change cannot be over emphasized.
3. It is important for us all to understand the involvement of Nigeria in the fight against human trafficking. The Federal Government of Nigeriaenacted the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act,2003 which was repealed by Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015 thereby demonstrating it’s political will to effectively combat human trafficking activities in Nigeria and beyond.
4. This law addresses trafficking in persons with its associated problems by creating the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), vested with the following functions:
(a) To coordinate all laws on trafficking in persons and related offences;
(b) To adopt measures to increase the effectiveness of eradication of trafficking in persons;
(c) To enhance effectiveness of law enforcement agents to suppress trafficking in persons among others.
NAPTIP has recorded a number of milestones including:
- Conviction of no fewer than 430 persons. (Many cases still pending in Courts and investigation of many still on-going.
- Over 17,000 victims passed through the NAPTIP Shelters. Given Psychosocial support, provided skills, education, medical supports, empowerment and reintegrated to their families and society;
- Five survivors trained by the Agency with the support of its partner are now Officers of the Agency.
- NAPTIP has become a training ground for other countries including European countries to learn good practices in the fight against human trafficking as a number of them now sent officials on study tour of NAPTIP with a view to establishing such Agency in their countries;
- Recently concluded work with the Nigeria Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) on the infusion of trafficking in persons issues into the curricula of Primary and Secondary Schools in Nigeria.
- Getting the FG to extend the Whistle blowing Policy to human trafficking issues among others.
- Our sensitization and awareness programme has taken a new dimension in the sense that we have moved from village to village, community to community and hamlet to hamlet educating the unreached segment of the society on the tricks and trends in human trafficking and how to protect their children from the baseless lies of human traffickers.
- It is important to mention here that we have also engaged policy makers at the grassroots, national and regional levels with a view to securing their full support through implementation of counter trafficking programmes and policies that will address the undergirding factors that fuel human trafficking. These include local Government Chairmen, members of legislative arms of government at all levels, State Governors and recently members of the ECOWAS Parliament.
- Recognizing the inestimable value of partnership as a strategic tool in combatting transnational organised crime such as human trafficking, the noble concept of Task Force Against Human Trafficking at the grassroots which is a counter – trafficking initiative of NAPTIP with the support of UNODC and other partners is being established across states in the Federation.
- The much expected Sex Offenders Register was launched in Nigeria. This is another concept aimed at naming and shaming of sex offenders in the Country with the provision of the Violence AgainstPersons Prohibition Act(VAPP).
- The agency has also engaged the criticalpartner agency in the aviation sector-Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority(NCIA), Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to sensitize them on their roles in making counter-trafficking messages conspicuous at our major airports, at the check-in and boarding areas, along the boarding gates and as part of the airlines inflight audio and visual communications.All these fit into the policy and strategy developed by NAPTIP to engage the whole of government and the whole of society.
5. Ladies and Gentlemen, no country can survive with the huge cost of human trafficking and irregular migration to the depletion of its human resources. Our country’s greatest asset is our population and our youth population is the future of this country. This scourge is a clear and present danger that urgently demands all hands on deck and warrants the deployment of resources of both society and government to reverse it.
6. Every year, a huge number of women and children are trafficked around the world in various ways, either for sexual or labour exploitation, organ harvesting etc. Trafficked victims from Nigeria are recruited from rural areas or within the country into involuntary servitude and forced commercial sexual exploitation, street vending, begging etc. Nigeria women and children are taken from Nigeria to other West and Central African countries like Gabon, Cameroun, Ghana, Chad, Mali, Benin, Togo, Niger, Burkina Faso and the Gambia. They are also taken to Europe especially Italy, Belgium and Spain through North Africa for forced prostitution.
7. Their trauma and pains make them cherry picking for insurgents and terrorists. Along the path of human trafficking, life is short brutish and nasty and the slender thread of hope diminishes each day turning the victim into willing tools in the hands of his or her captors ready to exact vengeance on their society.
8. Need I say more about the economic consequences of brain drain and loss of human capital which are the twin occupants of the scourge.We must, as a people begin to invest resources that seek to address the push factors or grey grasses which compel our youths or citizens to migrate illegally or fall prey to traffickers. We should not be unmindful of the health consequences too; the attendant cost of reception and health screening of returnees withdrawn from camps in Libya
9. Human Trafficking is a threat to national and human security of any nation irrespective of the level of government. The spike in insurgency and brazenness of terrorism must be located in its capacity to recruit members to its fold from the undiscerning minds, less advantaged class of the society and army of vulnerable persons within the grassroots levels of governance.
10. In the same vein, this is a clarion call to all men, institutions, groups, clubs, CSO’s, government, corporate bodies, law enforcement institutions to gird their loins, raise voices and join hands to combat this crime that has shamed us all. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, “Our live begins to end the day we became silent about things that matter”.
11. While hoping that this summit will spur us all to do more for the voiceless,I wish to reiterate that NAPTIP shall continue to partner with stakeholders across board with a view to ensuring a human trafficking free Nigeria and the world at large. We all have a role to play, either in raising awareness, building partnerships, providing information, protecting victims or bringing the criminals to justice.
Take action nowto empower our sisters and brotherswhose lives are for sale.