From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Federal Government, with the support of the United Nations Agencies, notably, United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC), International Office on Migration (IOM), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), have redesigned its approaches against human trafficking in Nigeria with launch of three programmes.
National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), is expected the implement the programmes with the support of the partners.
Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouk, launched the three projects in Abuja, on Friday, at an event to mark the 2021 World Day against Human Trafficking.
She expressed optimism that the three new programmes would go a long way in strengthening NAPTIP and its partners in the fight against human trafficking.
The Minister who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Bashir Alkali, reaffirmed the determination of the Federal Government to the cause of ending human trafficking, thus soliciting the support of all stakeholders to the fight.
She said that Federal Government has strengthen its systems and collaboration to deal ruthlessly with human traffickers and their collaborators.
She said: “Human trafficking is an age-long global pandemic that poses a serious risk and taking actors across the world to task. This is because, apart from its viral consequences in fuelling other crimes like drug trafficking and even money laundry, its major victims are mostly innocent women and children who clearly represent the future of any society.
She said the President has demonstrated the required political will in the fight against human trafficking and, as a result, provided necessary direction and support to NAPTIP and other critical stakeholders in a bid to make Nigeria a human trafficking free nation.
This, she said, was clearly demonstrated in the speedy approval and sustained assistance for the development of various policies as well as unhindered inter-agency collaborations which have resulted in the modest achievements recorded by Nigeria through the Agency.
NAPTIP Director General, Basheer Garba Muhammed, in his remarks, explained that the first campaign project tagged, “strengthening Nigeria’s criminal justice response to trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants” was supported by the Netherlands.
He explained: “The project seeks to strengthen national capacities to prevent, investigate and prosecute Trafficking In Persons (TIP) cases in line with international human rights standards, and to reinforce international cooperation and internal coordination in investigating and prosecuting TIP cases in line with national and international human rights law.”
He also explained that the second project, titled “Strengthening Trans-Regional Action and Responses against the Smuggling of Migrants – STARSOM”, is supported by Canada and will be implemented by UNODC in close coordination with the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS).
“It’s also aimed at supporting Nigeria in combatting the activities of migrants smuggling networks and the threat it poses to smuggled migrants by enhancing law enforcement, judicial responses and strategies beyond interdiction activities towards dismantling criminal networks and fostering transnational cooperation.”
Muhammed who spoke through the Director, Legal and Prosecution Department, Hassan Tahir, also confirmed that the third project was the harmonized screening and reporting tools for identification of victims of human trafficking by stakeholders.
He disclosed that the system were developed by NAPTIP, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) and Civil Society Organizations under the auspices of the Network of Civil Society organizations Against Child Trafficking, Child Abuse and Labour (NACTAL) with the support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Meanwhile, he disclosed that available records at NAPTIP indicate that over 17,000 victims of trafficking have been rescued, counselled and rehabilitated, while a good number have also been empowered with no fewer than five employed at NAPTIP after seeing them through the University Education.
Similarly, he disclosed that about 560 traffickers have been jailed, while many other cases are being prosecuted in the different courts of jurisdiction.
“Aside the nine zonal commands, NAPTIP has increased its presence to over 12 states of the federation, as a way of boosting the operations of the agency and to also penetrate all parts of the country to outsmart the traffickers and make them uncomfortable,” he said.
He, thus stressed the role of the public in ensuring the protection of the most vulnerable victims, including children and young people, giving them the opportunity to live a life of integrity devoid of any form of dehumanization and degradation.