By Bukar Bolori
The Director General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Prof. Fatima Waziri – Azi, has assured that the agency will continue to expand its operational horizon through improved partnership, enhanced partnership with all stakeholders as well as diligent prosecution of offenders, to outsmart the criminal elements.
The Director General also cautioned desperate Nigerians against indiscriminate migration in the name of the popular “Japa” so as not to be enslaved by migrant smugglers who are poised at preying on their ignorance and vulnerability with the attendance consequences of mindless exploitation.
Waziri – Azi, stated this on the Special Edition of the online interactive programme tagged “Conversation with NAPTIP”, put together as part of the activities to mark the 20th Anniversary of the establishment of the agency and the 2023 World Day Against Human Trafficking.Conversation with NAPTIP is a specially designed platform that promotes mutual interaction between the agency and stakeholders for the purpose of enlightenment and feedback engagement in order to improve service delivery.
The Director General disclosed some of the modest achievements of the agency within the past 20 years to include the conviction of 624 traffickers, the rescue of over 22,000 victims of trafficking, sponsoring of 19 survivors through University Education, development of several counter–trafficking policies, engagement with diverse stakeholders including the Justice sector through the National Judicial Institute (NJI) and global partnership with critical partners to counter the emerging trends in human trafficking.
On the dynamism of human trafficking in Nigeria and the response of the agency in tackling them, Waziri – Azi reiterated that human trafficking has assumed a national spread across the country with the emerging trends including an increase in online catfishing of youngsters by traffickers, fake job offers and advertorials, fake scholarship offers increase trafficking under cover of sporting activities, orphanage trafficking as well as buying and selling of babies.
She said: “In the past 20 years, the crime of human trafficking has evolved in terms of trends and patterns. But, one thing I can say for sure is that Nigeria is better poised to tackle the issues of human trafficking.”
She added that through partnerships with global anti-trafficking Law Enforcement Agencies and corporate bodies such as Meta, owner of Facebook, and the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, the Agency has been able to tackle them effectively.
On the nagging issues of mass exodus of Nigeria abroad, the Director General who appreciated the concerns and plights of Nigerians who daily seek alternative places to settle outside the country, urged them to be mindful of the Red Flag associated with human trafficking in order to avoid exploitation.She said: “If you must Japa, Japa the right way.
Migrate legally. Nobody is saying you should not travel. Nobody is saying you should not aspire more than what you are now. But, the point is, you have to do your homework. You have to do your research. You must ask the right questions.And this attitude of Nigerians going through a middle person, people must learn to own the process.
“You must know the red flags. When someone tells you that he wants to sponsor you abroad and the next thing is that he starts manipulating your personal information on your passport. They change your name, they changed your age, they changed your date of birth, that is a red flag. Or when someone tells you that I want to take you to Italy and the next thing is that you see yourself in a bus going to Seme border or you see yourself going through Jibia border, that in itself is a red flag.”
Waziri – Azi while expressing appreciation to all partners for their sustained support and collaboration with the agency since its creation, declared that her projection is to place the agency on a sound pedestal as a foremost counter trafficking agency within the comity of nations through the potent implementation of all the relevant laws and ensuring that Nigeria is safe from all forms of trafficking and exploitation.
The online engagement provided an opportunity for many partners within and outside the country to ask questions about the activities of the agency.