Daniel George,

Hard time awaits human traffickers and other organized criminal gangs operating with the aid of cyber-technology as the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has concluded collaboration with the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children to enhance tracing and diligent investigation of all cases relating of child abuse and human trafficking

According to Stella Nezan, Head Press and Public Relations Unit NAPTIP Headquaters Abuja, with this development, the Agency shall have unrestricted access to millions of information around the world that would help tackle online recruitment, trafficking and exploitation of victims.

Director General of NAPTIP, Dr Fatima Waziri–Azi, disclosed this in Abuja while speaking on the 2022 counter trafficking strategic approach of the Agency aimed at ensuring protection of Nigerians from human trafficking and other forms of exploitation,online and offline.

It would be recalled that Dr Fatima Waziri–Azi, has consistently maintained that the arrest and prosecution of high profile human traffickers operating both within and outside Nigeria remain one of her strategic priorityas this will serve as deterrent to others as well as reduce the level of impunity and ensure satisfactory justice delivery to victims of human trafficking.

Investigation revealed that apart from millions of vulnerable and unaccompanied children that are being trafficked across the West Africa corridors and migration routes, many victims are held and blackmailed by traffickers in various destinationswith the use of technology to shield their identities and also ensure firm and effective control measure on their victims.

The National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children is the custodian of the Cybertipline, which is a centralized reporting mechanism for crimes related to the sexual exploitation of children. The Cybertipline provides an online mechanism for members of the public and electronic service providers to report incidents of suspected child sexual exploitation.

Based in the United States of America, Cybertipline serves as the National Resource Centre and clearing house on missing and sexually exploited Children. It works closely with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, the US Secret Service, the Military Criminal Investigative Organizations, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task forces, the US Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity and other state and local Law Enforcement Agencies across the World.

Under this new partnership, NAPTIP shall have access to real time information on child sex trafficking, sex tourism involving children, child sexual molestation by non-family members and online enticement of children for sexual acts, among others.

Speaking on the benefits of the new operational partnership, the Director General of NAPTIP, Dr Fatima Waziri–Azi, said the latest development is a product of the renewed determination by the Agency to investigate and prosecute those operating remotely with the aid of technology.

“It is a known fact that human trafficking has continued to evolve in line with globalization, especially with technology, traffickers have kept pace with technology by using the World Wide Web for their operations.

“This modus of operandi is prominent with the advent of the COVID-19 Pandemic. There is a shift from physical recruitment to virtual recruitment through virtual assessment of victim and proxy negotiation

“This database shall enable NAPTIP tohave access to vital information of perpetrators who use social media platforms to electronically distributing pornographic materials to either blackmail or exploit children.The system will also help trace missing children, rescue child victims and rescue children from abusive situation”. Dr Fatima Waziri–Azi stated.

The NAPTIP Director-General called on all stakeholders to cooperate with the Agency though the sharing of information on missing children and other suspected activities of traffickers within their environment and be assured that such information shall be treated with strict confidentiality and prompt attention.

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