By Rosemary Ogbonnaya
The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, has commenced the prosecution of a Spain based Nigerian, Patricia Ekhoe Igbinovia (Aka Mama Bobby, Aka Audu Mariam Olayemi) who is notorious in the trafficking of Nigerian young women from Nigeria to Spain.
NAPTIP disclosed this in its press statement issued to journalists in Abuja on Thursday.
The statement said two of her gang members are currently in detention in Spain.
Patricia Igbinovia whom operatives of the Agency have been on her trail for a long time was recently arrested in a sting operation in Lagos when she sneaked into the country.
The suspect has also been arraigned before Honourable Justice C. J. Aneke of the Federal High Court, Lagos in the charge marked FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA v. PATRICIA EKHOE IGBINOVIA (AKA MAMA BOBBY, AKA AUDU MARIAM OLAYEMI, FHC/L/345C/2021.
She has also been remanded in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Service while the matter is adjourned to 17th January 2022 for commencement of trial.
The Director-General of NAPTIP, Dr Fatima Waziri-Azi disclosed this at a Virtual meeting (THE CONVERSATION WITH NAPTIP) with Stakeholders and Partners of the Agency to mark her first 100 days as Director-General of NAPTIP.
Waziri-Azi stated that the prosecution is being supported by the British and Spanish authorities through the Mutual Legal Assistance between Nigeria and the other two countries.
‘’ This is the first time NAPTIP would be prosecuting a case where evidence from another country transmitted to Nigeria through Mutual Legal Assistance, is used to arrest the target and case filed in court’’, she added.
This case is coming just as the Agency has also commenced the prosecution of an official of a Law Enforcement Agency involved in the trafficking of young persons to other countries.
According to the Director-General, the ongoing prosecutions are in line with the Agency’s renewed strategy for enhanced prosecution of high–profile traffickers and cases of violence against persons in Nigeria.
Counted some of her modest milestones since she assumed office, she said “Since September, the Agency has received two hundred and twenty-four (224) cases, investigated thirty-nine (39), and one hundred and eighty-nine (189) suspects have been detained and interrogated.
“Two hundred and ninety-eight (298) victims have been rescued in partnership with other sister agencies, International Organizations, and NGOs. A total number of 19 repatriations have been successful with the invaluable support of IOM, following intelligence reports received and we have about 15 joint intelligence operations currently ongoing. NAPTIP has secured six (6) convictions (Kano, Sokoto, Benin). Bringing the total number of convictions to 490’’.
Speaking further, she said, ” On assumption of office, I was crystal clear and deliberate about what I needed to do and where I want NAPTIP to be as an anti-human trafficking law enforcement Agency. And my approach is based on four strategic priorities (Enhanced conviction rate of High Profile Traffickers; evidence based and sustainable return and reintegration programs for victims of TIP & SOM; scaled age-appropriate awareness creation on the ills of TIP, especially at the sub-national level, in urban poor communities and rural areas and amongst the youths; and enhanced visibility of the work of the agency, its partners and reporting channels .These four strategic priorities plug into the five-point overarching strategies of the Agency, which is Prosecution, Protection, Prevention, partnership and policy.
“With the support of IOM, FIIAPP, Italian embassy, UNODC and other partners, we have successfully completed several capacity building for NAPTIP prosecutors, intelligence officers and investigators”.
She however, pointed out that the only panacea to an effective fight against human trafficking across the globe is a sufficient response from stakeholders without borders, enough political will as well as unconditional collaboration and cooperation among State and Non- State Actors.
On evidence–based and sustainable rehabilitation, reintegration and empowerment of survivors, within the period under review, the NAPTIP boss said the Agency has “enrolled 5 victims of violence against persons in school: three in primary school and two in tertiary institutions and reunited Forty-three victims of trafficking with their families, including one Cambodian national who three weeks ago returned to her country after six months in our shelter.
She said 10 victims in the NAPTIP Shelter have been empowered.
In his speech, the Chief of Mission, International Organization for Migration (IOM), Mr. Frantz Celestine who was represented by Ms. Prestage Murima, commended the Director General for her achievement, promising sustained support of IOM to NAPTIP.