*Opens Oshogbo Zonal Command of NAPTIP
As part of the efforts aimed at halting sharp practices within some Civil Society Organisations purporting to be fighting human trafficking in Nigeria, the Director-General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Julie Okah-Donli has threatened to shut down all illegal shelters established for victims of human trafficking across the country.
She stated that the promoters of such shelters would also be prosecuted.
The Director-General stated this Monday in Abuja while playing host to members of the Board of Trustees and staff of the Women Trafficking and Child Labour Eradication Foundation (WOTCLEF) who paid her a courtesy visit.
They were led by a Board member and pioneer Executive Secretary of NAPTIP, Mrs. Carol Ndaguba and the National Coordinator, Mrs. Veronica Umaru.
She said, ‘’We have received intelligence that a number of organizations unknown to us and probably NACTAL are keeping shelters for rescued human trafficking victims, and missing persons and also using them to seek funds at home and abroad.
The problem here is that we do not know how genuine these organizations are; and the image of the country and the Agency is at stake; we do not know their intentions and therefore, cannot allow them to keep operating in Nigeria. We will investigate this intelligence and where we find it to be true, such illegal shelters will be shut down and the owners prosecuted. Hosting of shelters for rescued victims of human trafficking must be regulated so as to sanitize the sector.
“We have also noted an ugly trend in the manner with which individuals now establish organizations purportedly to fight human trafficking. Many of such organizations were at a time found to be questionable; hence the coming of the Network of CSOs against Trafficking in Persons, Child Labour and Abuse (NACTAL) as an umbrella body which registers members and regulates their activities’’.
She also said that NAPTIP was in the process of developing an operational template that will guide the effective collaboration between NAPTIP and the Civil Society Organisations to ensure adherence to international best practices.
According to her, “In the next few months, NAPTIP will come up with a template to ensure comprehensive synergy amongst all stakeholders. We will not impose this template on the stakeholders but will hold discussions on it and anyone who runs foul of it afterwards will face necessary sanctions’’.
“We keep data of rescued victims of human trafficking and if people rescue victims without our knowledge, we do not have a way of capturing that data for government planning or finding the traffickers for prosecution. This has to stop with. I will hold meetings with NACTAL in this regard”.
To step up the fight against human trafficking, the Director-General has ordered immediate commencement of operations at the Osogbo Zonal Command in Osun State.
According to the NAPTIP boss, this decision was informed by the fact that many Nigerians were still living in ignorance of the presence of the modern day slavery and as such ‘’there is the urgent need to ensure adequate surveillance and massive sensitization of all the nooks and crannies of the country’’.
She reiterated the determination of the Agency to embark on an aggressive sensitization of all parts of the country with a view to ensuring that all parts of the nation are adequately informed of the dangers of human trafficking.
She promised a robust working relationship with WOTCLEF especially in the areas of rehabilitation and care for victims of human trafficking.
Speaking earlier, leader of the team and the pioneer Executive Secretary of NAPTIP, Mrs. Carol Ndaguba, traced the existing relationship between WOTCLEF and NAPTIP and solicited for an improved relationship in order to effectively curb incidences of human trafficking in the country.
She also disclosed that out of the 185 victims of human trafficking referred to WOTCLEF for assistance, four are at present studying at various Universities in Nigeria under the sponsorship of NAPTIP.