Julie Okah-Donli, Director General, National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), has called for immediate prosecution and conviction of human traffickers in the destination countries.
She who gave the charge in Abuja during an interactive session with Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, stressing the collaborative need on the two agencies to start making the demands.
Out of over 12,000 people rescued so far by the agency since 2003 when it was established, 6,000 victims were rehabilitated while the agency secured 325 convictions.
“Right now, we still have a number of cases in court; we still hope to have some number of convictions before the end of the year.
“I will like you to join your strong voice with mine, Nigerians are the victims, we need to change the narratives, when they are sent back, the destination countries are telling me that their nationals are not involved. This is not true’.
“There is no way Nigerians will be operating in Italy or any other countries without their nationals assisting them. Nigerians are just agents taking the consignments to them in Europe”, she said.
Okah-Donli wondered how Nigerians will get into other countries without the collaboration of the nationals of those countries, stressing that the affected countries make it look like it was all Nigeria problems.
“It is high time for us as a country, to start making demands for the criminals in those destination counties to be prosecuted and convicted and not see it as Nigeria problems alone.
“The biggest challenge to me has been the refusal of the destination countries to prosecute their own gangs, not being able to confiscate the assets and freeze the accounts of the criminal gangs that are based in their countries,” the NATTIP boss added.
She therefore called for the repatriation of all assets, monies accruable to the Nigerian victims over there, saying when they are done with them, they just deport them without releasing all their assets to them.
“This is inhuman, callous and wicked. It is greater than slavery. They rape our boys and turn them to cargo. Everyday, they are getting a new consignment. I want to see all these demands happening,” he said.
In her remarks, Abike Dabiri-Erewa applauded the Director-General’s passion and achievements so far within the shortest time she was appointed, assuring that her office was ready to partner with NAPTIP to succeed.
She advised NAPTIP to link up with Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs to have desks in the affected Nigeria embassies abroad to assist in the activities of the agency in tracking up the criminals.
The Presidential aide also advised parents and guardians to take care of their children by giving them good orientation as well as calling on States and Non-government and Humanitarian Organisations to assist NAPTIP in rehabilitating the victims.
“For me it will be a great delight to partner with you because we are dealing with a serious problem. We are dealing with victims not criminals because most of the victims were tricked into it.
“I look forward to working with you to address the situation, which is getting more worrisome, more dangerous and we need to save our youths from this,” Dabiri-Erewa said.
KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja