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1134 Nigerians deported in three months – NAPTIP boss

*This is unacceptable and must be changed

No fewer than 1134 Nigerians have been deported from various parts of the world back to Nigeria in the past three months (From February to April 2017) for various migration offences according to NAPTIP. The offences include: human trafficking, smuggling of migrants, non possession of valid travel documents amongst other.

Out of the number, a total of 905 were deported from Libya in 5 batches; 115 from Italy in 4 batches; 41 from Mali; 26 from Burkina Faso; 14 from Ghana; 22 from the United Arab Emirate (Dubai); 1 from Cameroun; 8 from Cote D’ Ivoire; and 2 from Togo.

These figures were released in Abuja Wednesday by the Director-General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Julie Okah-Donli at the opening of an Expanded Management meeting of the Agency.

The Expanded Management meeting had in attendance all officers on the Directorate Cadre and all the Zonal Commanders of NAPTIP. The meeting was aimed at exchanging ideas on how to reposition the Agency for better service delivery to the country.

The Director General who stated that even though, the figure was alarming and embarrassing, it was still a far cry from the number of persons including victims of human trafficking stranded across various countries especially in Africa awaiting assistance to return home. Those stranded include the over 5000 reportedly stranded in Mali alone.

These figures which she described as unacceptable calls for concerted efforts by all Nigerians to resolve. She disclosed that the Agency was already in talks with the Federal Authorities to assist the Agency in regular evacuation of stranded Nigerians who have indicated interest in returning home.

As part of her repositioning NAPTIP, she explained that the Agency under her leadership will engage government at all levels as well as other stakeholders and foreign partners in a robust manner to ensure that all factors that create vulnerability for trafficking in persons, smuggling of migrants and other forms of illegal migration of Nigerians were addressed comprehensively.

She stated that the days of leaving the welfare of the people to the Federal Government alone were over, adding that States and Local governments as well as the private sector must join hands with the Federal Government to ensure that human traffickers and smugglers of persons no longer have a field day in Nigeria.

She also disclosed that her reform efforts at the Agency will in a very short while return Nigeria to the Tier 1 in the United States of America’s ranking of countries compliance to the minimum standards in the fight against human trafficking. Nigeria was downgraded from Tier 1 to Tier 2 in 2012 due to a number of issues which the American Government said were not in compliance with the minimum standards.

She said, “I know the Country was at a point in Tier-1 in the fight against human trafficking but sadly, we went down to Tier-2. With your assistance and renewed dedication to work, the agency will move Nigeria back to Tier-1 because that is where we belong. My dear colleagues, please join me in this effort to restore the agency’s lost glory so we can collectively combat the menace of trafficking in persons and bring Nigeria back to Tier-1 where we should permanently be.”

As part of the repositioning efforts, a Reforms Division comprising the Anti-Corruption and Transparency Monitoring Unit, the Servicom Unit and Gender Unit has been created under the office of the Director-General. Also, the procurement of goods and services has been properly streamlined in line with the Public Procurement Act. All these are aimed at ensuring that sharp practices and all acts of corruption are avoided. A Director General’s crack team on investigation is also being put together to monitor activities of investigators and to ensure that compromises are avoided in the investigation of human trafficking cases.

“We must collectively eradicate all forms of corruption within the system especially in investigation of reported cases of trafficking and any staff caught in this practice will be dealt with in line with the provisions of the civil service rule and thereafter handed over to ICPC office for further necessary action if found guilty’’ she stated.

She has also placed a temporary ban on all foreign and local trainings except for fully sponsored trainings while a committee was raised to look into all complaints of officers including placement of staff in past employment exercises with a view to adequately addressing them.

The Director-General also disclosed that the empowerment of victims of human trafficking must be brought to the front burner as they remain the most important persons in the fight against human trafficking.

On the planned massive nationwide awareness creation campaign, she urged all Zonal Commanders to mobilize all stakeholders within their jurisdiction to ensure that everyone comes on board. ‘’We must prevent this crime from happening by comprehensively mobilizing everyone in this massive awareness campaign’’, she added.

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