BY Victor Ahiuma-Young
NATIONAL Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and other related matters, NAPTIP, has secured a total of 168 convictions in the past nine years of operations, saying not less than 41 cases were currently pending at the Lagos zone.
This came as Joint Task Force, JTF in Lokoja, Kogi, intercepted 20 vehicles conveying more than 103 children, suspected to have been trafficked.
NAPTIP Lagos Zonal Commander, Mr. Odetunde Adedayo spoke at a Training for media Practitioners on human Trafficking and forced labour, organised by International Labour Organisation, ILO, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODDC, and funded by the European Union, EU, Adedayo said the property of the traffickers had equally been confiscated and forfeited by the agency in accordance with Section 44 of the NAPTIP Act.
According to him, “We have secured successful prosecution of over 168 offenders. The victims have received psycho-social and medical counseling including family tracing. Victims have been successfully trained in various vocations and empowered with start-up kits to set up own business while others have been enrolled in various schools by the agency”
He explained that “Nigeria is regarded as one of the few countries in the world with an anti-trafficking law and an Agency set up to combat Trafficking in Persons, TIP. The law prohibits Trafficking in Persons and provides penalties including monetary fines, imprisonment, forfeiture of assets and passports, and liability for compensation of victims in civil proceedings. Imprisonment terms range from 12 months to life.
As a result of the law, National Agency for Prohibition of Traffic In Persons and Other Related Matters, NAPTIP, was established to enforce the law. Nigeria is regarded as one of the few countries in the world with an anti-trafficking law and an Agency set up to combat TIP.”
The Lagos Zonal Coordinator however lamented that underfunding, delay in judicial process and non appreciation of the concept of human trafficking and its ills especially as it relates to child labour were major challenges facing the agency.
He called on Nigerians to join forces with the agency and other stakeholders in the fight against human trafficking and liberate vulnerable children and those at risk, saying “Government has demonstrated its political will by enacting the Anti-Trafficking Act, to deal with the problem so it is expected that each and every one of us has a duty by coming together to join forces in eradicating the menace.”