By Bidon Mibzar, Abuja
In a bid to curb human trafficking as well as irregular migration in the country, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has entered into partnership with private individuals as well as corporate organisations.
The director general of NAPTIP, Barrister Julie Okah-Donli, who disclosed this at the weekend, said the idea is to create job opportunities and soft loans to encourage youths who are more vulnerable to human trafficking to engage in entrepreneurship.
She said, “Recently, I had a meeting with Tony Elumelu Foundation in Lagos and he promised to assist us in that regard by seeing where he can help us with some of our victims and train them to become young entrepreneurs like giving them some starter parts and even giving them some skill acquisition training.
“That is what we are trying to do to prevent them from going abroad. There must be something on ground to prevent them from going and in that regard, we are engaging state governors as well, asking them to begin to do something for the youths in their various states. It is good to know that all of them come from one community or the other. So, everyone has to be involved in this fight”.
Okah-Donli also hinted that the agency has rescued about 2,000 victims of human trafficking and irregular migration within the last six months.
According to her, apart from this number of rescued persons in 2017 which appears to be the highest recorded in just a year, the agency has so far rescued a total of 12000 victims between 2003 and this year.
The NAPTIP boss commended the United Kingdom for her strong support and collaborative effort in the war against human trafficking.
She noted that in the next one year, NAPTIP will be looking towards being rated in the world category as well as becoming fully compliant with all the minimum standards of the United Nations regarding preventing trafficking in persons.
“We have rescued over 12000 victims who have passed through our shelter between 2003 and now and in the last six months, over 2000 have been rescued”, she stated.
On how the agency was able to achieve this feat, she said, “NAPTIP embarked on massive awareness campaign and we have involved communities, community leaders and faith based organisations. Every stakeholder you can imagine, we have engaged. We are trying to do something like a joint taskforce between NAPTIP and these community leaders so that when they see anything suspicious in their communities, they quickly call NAPTIP or the nearest security agency.
“We are putting that kind of awareness in place in communities because these traffickers go to communities and rural areas to get this people to recruit them. So, with that type of arrangement in place now and with that awareness, it is really going to go a long way to prevent this crime of trafficking from taking place.
“Because most of them are actually trying to go abroad, they are deceived. They don’t go there willingly; they do so thinking that there are greener pastures over there and most of them, on their way crossing the Mediterranean Sea or through the Sahara Desert, get killed. So, with this awareness campaign we are hoping to reduce it”.
On convictions made so far in cases of human trafficking pending before the court, the DG said NAPTIP has recorded 325 and is working towards tripling the number.
“NAPTIP should be looking at doubling or tripling the number of cases and convictions we have made. Between 2003 and now, we have about 325 convictions. NAPTIP should be working towards doubling or tripling that number and prosecuting much more cases as well”, she stated.
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By Bidon Mibzar, Abuja