Debbie Palmer, Country Representative of Department for International Development (DFID) disclosed that the agency has spent whooping sum of £3 million to support ongoing campaign against modern day slavery in Nigeria.
According to the statistics released by National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), 13,345 victims of trafficking have so far been rehabilitated.
According to Julie Okah, NAPTIP Director General, who spoke at the opening of a consultative with Common Wealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) United Kingdom delegation to Nigeria and other stakeholders hosted by the House of Representatives Committee on Inter-Parliamentary Relations in Abuja, out of 6,000 cases reported to the agency since inception, total number of 3,600 cases have been investigated and secured 368 convictions.
She said: “The agency has rehabilitated 13,345 victims of TIP from inception, with a good number of them empowered with formal education and vocational skills for meaningful living.
“The agency has won 304 cases resulting in the conviction of 368 traffickers,” she said.”
Okah observed that many Nigerians from Southern and Northern engaged into prostitution where it is legalised.
In the bid to address the menace, Speaker Yakubu Dogara harped on the need to strengthen the NAPTIP Act with the view to accommodate trafficking courts, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) into the board membership.
Dogara who was represented by the Chukwuma Onyema, Minority Leader, stressed the need to bring promoters of human trafficking to book.
“We should not be unmindful of the fact that laws alone, no matter how well crafted cannot solve this evil. For instance, Britain is a world leader in modern slavery legislation but yet London is an international hub for modern slavery. Research conducted by the CO-OP in 2017 suggested that four out of ten people in the UK are not sure what modern slavery was. In most countries the figures are more appalling. We are not likely to succeed in the fight against this evil with near pervasive ignorance of its existence.
“To win this war we need to up our advocacy because with increased awareness comes increased determination to act. I charge us not to forget that survivors and victims of this evil are not entitled to pity but justice. Justice is best served in this case if we help to bring perpetrators to justice and mobilize resources with which to bring sustainable comfort to the survivors.
“The evils of the modern slavery/human trafficking/forced labour being perpetrated in Nigeria and several other countries are obvious to all of us. They present one of the worst cases of inhuman treatment and wickedness of man to fellow human beings. They also contribute to the high incidence of poverty, social distress and crimes generally in countries where they occur. The global community have made efforts, particularly in the last two decades to stamp out this sore on humanity’s conscience with mixed results.
“Nigeria, as we know, occupies a central position in the West African axis as a country of origin, transit and destination for victims of human trafficking for forced labour, sexual abuse and other forms of exploitation. Men, women and most especially children are trafficked from Nigeria to Western Europe, Middle East and some African countries. Victims from neighbouring countries like Benin, Cameroun, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali are also brought into Nigeria for forced and hard labour.
“In addition to these, there are prevalent incidences of rural to urban trafficking within Nigeria, in which women and children are trafficked for domestic, agricultural and industrial labour, as well as sexual exploitation and street begging. Researches have also confirmed that parents, particularly from the northern parts of Nigeria, force their children to engage in sustained begging for economic survival or daily sustenance.
“The establishment of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) through the NAPTIP Enforcement and Administration Act, 2003, was one of the first decisive steps taken by the Nigerian government to curb the illicit human trafficking enterprise.
“In 2015, the Parliament passed an Act to amend the Law, which increased the penalties for trafficking offenses to a minimum of five years imprisonment, among others. However, in spite of the various improvements in the Law, the envisaged effective apprehension and conviction of offenders have not been achieved.
“This explains the need for the Trafficking in Persons Prohibition, Enforcement and Administration (Amendment) Bill, 2018. The Bill, which seeks to amend the 2015 Act, will establish Special Trafficking Court, expand the composition of the Governing Board of NAPTIP by including members from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), increase penalties and criminalise certain offences, among other provisions. It is hoped that this Bill, when passed into law, will help to tame the hydra-headed monster of human trafficking, sexual exploitation and related offences.
“I believe that the outcome of this Consultative Meeting will help to enrich the Bill and facilitate our victory in the war against trafficking in persons and other associated crimes. I urge the stakeholders to be exhaustive in their submissions and deliberations so that together, we can fashion a statute that will meet our expectations and the desired end,” the Speaker stressed.