By Rosemary ogbonnaya
The newly appointed Director General, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, Dr. Fatima Waziri- Azi has vowed to collaborate with sister Law Enforcement Agencies at home and abroad to clamp down on the high profile traffickers.
Waziri – Azi made the vow during her maiden press conference held in Abuja on Thursday.
She said Trafficking in Persons has become the third largest criminal enterprise globally and second amongst transnational organized crime, despite sustained efforts by world governments and the international community, promising to with sister Law Enforcement Agencies at home and abroad to move far ahead of them.
“Human trafficking is not a problem, it is A CRISIS! And empirical evidence has shown that said Trafficking in Persons has become the third largest criminal enterprise globally and second amongst transnational organized crime, despite sustained efforts by world governments and the international community. It is an organized crime that is mostly carried out covertly and involves several individuals or groups playing different roles between countries.
“The criminal enterprises have shifted significantly from the old time physical recruitment procedures to virtual recruitment through virtual assessment of victims, proxy negotiations and administration of oath of secrecy even at the destination countries and electronic transfer of proceeds of this illicit trade. In line with this, it is my determination, working with sister Law Enforcement Agencies at home and abroad to move far ahead of them,” said Waziri-Azi
She said that with the judicious application of the rule of law, the Agency is determined to stop traffickers at all cost by applying a 24 hours on hands on deck approach and ensuring that the proceeds of their criminal activities are forfeited for the benefit of the real owners (the Victims).
To stop the traffickers, the NAPTIP boss said would require diligent implementation of a 4- point strategic priority in line with the 5Ps Strategies of the Agency that is; Policy, Prevention, Protection, Prosecution and Partnership.
She revealed that the first strategic priority is enhanced Conviction of High Profile Traffickers and increased prosecution of cases of Sexual and Gender Based Violence. “It is on record that the Agency has had 487 convictions since its inception in 2003. As commendable as this appears especially with the difficulties and challenges in the prosecution of a clandestine crime like trafficking in persons, it is clearly not enough and we must do more in that direction.
“In as much as we shall continue to arrest and prosecute all offenders, our greater emphasis shall be on those high-profile traffickers. We shall not only go after them, we shall collaborate with other partners and destination countries to recover and return all illicit assets. When we have more convictions and less impunity that is what sends a message,” she said.
The second strategic priority, according to her, is enhancing the prevention of trafficking in persons through increased and consistent Awareness Creation and sensitisation deliberately designed to educate people about human trafficking, its violence and what drives it, especially at the sub-national levels, and well as issues of Sexual and Gender Based Violence.
“We will also engage in a lot of Advocacy programmes with State Governments and Employers of Labour especially with the private sector with a view to providing more opportunities for young people so as to make them economically stable.
“The third strategic priority is a Sustainable and Evidence Based Rehabilitation, Reintegration and Empowerment Programs for Survivors of Human Trafficking. Efforts shall be made to ensure that survivors have access to a comprehensive rehabilitation scheme that will include mentoring and access to existing Federal Government initiatives like MSME grants, shared facilities and innovation hubs. We shall Scale-up access to education, income generation, and micro finance scheme for survivors to enable them properly fit into society in the long term.
“The fourth strategic focus shall be an increased visibility of the Agency and its partners. This shall involve deepening engagement with the Media, and the amplification of our reporting channels,” she said.