By Adelola Amihere
Despite the restriction on movements during the COVID-19 lockdown, overr 161 persons were identified to have been trafficked during the period, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, (NAPTIP) has revealed
The National President of the Network Against Child Traficking and Abuse (NACTA) Abdulganiyu Abubakar disclosed that the 161 persons were the ones only identified by the Sokoto NAPTIP coordinator trying to move into Algeria and other European countries.
The NACTA Chairman disclosed this during a 2-day capacity building workshop for social media handlers to create awareness against trafficking, organised by the Action Against Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants (A-TIPSOM) a project funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the Spanish Public Foundation (FIIAPP) yester in Keffi, Nasarawa state
According to him, most of the trafficked persons were from Edo, Akwa Ibom, Enugu, Abia, Osun and Ondo state
He said, “During our work with the Sokoto NAPTIP Coordinator, alot of Nigerians boys and girls were rescued from traffickers, as traffickers utilized the opourtunity that young children were at home doing nothing and so they capitalized on this and recruit them for trafficking and smuggling.”
He further raised alarm over the increasing exodus of young people from Niger Republic , Ghana, Mali, Burkina faso coming down into Nigeria on a daily basis. He attributed this to the strict lock down by Niger Republic that stopped all business activities and due to this several youths moved to Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara state where there was no lock down
He said most of them took advantage of the ECOWAS free movement to move en mass stressing the need for member countries to review the free movement as its not only aiding trafficking but also Banditry.
He further lamented the porosity of Nigerian borders stressing the need to check people coming into the country to ascertain they have genuine reasons for coming to the country and ensure they dont use that opportunity to move bandits into the country
“For instance Sokoto state borders Niget Republic, Kebbi state borders Benin Republic, Katsina borders Niget from Jibya, Kano Borders Niger also, Maidugurri borders Cameroon, Adamawa and othher Southern tates that shares border with other West African states. “
Meanwhile the Director General, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP) Iman Suleiman Ibrahim, has charged all to protect youths especially the females from being preys to traffickers, disclosing that the social media is increasingly being used to contact and recruit both the old and young for the sole purpose of exploitation.
As an Agency, we are poised to enlightening these youths and other potential victims on the dangers involved in being lured for lucrative job offers that seem too good to be true, just as we have seen since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak in 2020. It is our duty as Officers and Media Professionals to continue to use the Social Media space effectively in preaching against Trafficking in Persons, Smuggling of Migrants and shutting down the online operatives of these traffickers.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Senior Project Officer/Technical Advisor on Prevention at FIIAPP, Joseph Olusegun Sanwo, noted that the main objective of the project is to reduce trafficking in Persons (TIP) and Smuggling of Migrants (SOM)at national and regional levels, and between Nigeria and the European Union with specific emphasis on women and children.
He added that the project specifically aims to enhance the ability of the Nigerian government to improve governance of the migration sector, enhance prevention of TIP and SOM in key states of origin and transit and to improve protection , return and reintegration of victims of trafficking and Smuggling from Europe, amongst others.