NAPTIP Se­cures Con­vic­tion Against 316 Hu­man Traf­fick­ers

THISDAY - - NEWS - Bassey Inyang in Cal­abar

The Na­tional Agency for the Pro­hi­bi­tion of Traf­fick­ing in Per­sons (NAPTIP) has an­nounced that it has suc­cess­fully se­cured the con­vic­tion of 316 hu­man traf­fick­ers, who were charged to court for com­mit­ting var­i­ous re­lated of­fences.

The dis­clo­sure was made last Tues­day, in Cal­abar by NAPTIP’s Chief Le­gal Of­fi­cer, Ijeoma Amugo, while she was speak­ing at a one-day work­shop or­gan­ised by the Con­fer­ence of Western At­tor­neys-Gen­eral (CWAG) in con­junc­tion NAPTIP.

Amugo said that the as­sets of the con­victed peo­ple, based on court or­ders, have been for­feited and kept in the Vic­tims Trust Fund, while about 145 hu­man traf­fick­ing cases were still pend­ing in courts across the coun­try.

How­ever, she stated that de­spite the suc­cesses recorded by NAPTIP, there were some chal­lenges that the agency was still fac­ing, such as the clan­des­tine na­ture of the crime, in­ter­a­gency ri­valry, por­ous bor­ders, re­la­tion­ship ties, ten­der age of vic­tims, in­suf­fi­cient funds, lack of train­ing for in­ves­ti­ga­tors and pros­e­cu­tors, un­will­ing­ness of vic­tims to tes­tify in court, oath tak­ing in shrines and de­lay in the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem.

Chief In­tel­li­gence As­sis­tant of NAPTIP, Mrs. Tolu­lola Odugbe­san, while speak­ing on the rel­e­vance of the Vic­tims of Traf­fick­ing Trust Fund, said that the agency has pro­vided about 9,453 vic­tims of hu­man traf­fick­ing with psy­cho­log­i­cal coun­selling.

Odugbe­san said the agency was able to em­power 388 vic­tims with skills in petty business, hair­dress­ing, tai­lor­ing, hat mak­ing, knit­ting, cater­ing, pho­tog­ra­phy and ed­u­ca­tion etc.

One of the fa­cil­i­ta­tors of the work­shop, Chief An­thony Idigbe, SAN, who spoke on the side­line of event, said there was need for the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to re­form the laws against hu­man traf­fick­ing, in or­der to make it eas­ier to se­cure con­vic­tions.

“Clearly we can do much more, not just in terms of pros­e­cu­tion, but aware­ness. From the cases re­viewed in this work­shop, you can see how it is dif­fi­cult to pull a case and also the amount of re­sources needed. We would ap­pre­ci­ate if more re­sources are ded­i­cated to it. It also re­quires inter-agency co­op­er­a­tion in or­der to get the de­sired re­sults. It is work in progress.

“Again, if you look at our law that was amended in 2015, it re­quires fur­ther amend­ment. Our law fo­cuses too much on pure hu­man traf­fick­ing of­fence, which is very dif­fi­cult to prove. We need to amend the law to cre­ate lower level of­fences such as of­fences re­lated to sim­ple pos­ses­sion of travel doc­u­ments of an­other per­son, without ex­pla­na­tion. Like in Utah, United States, if you have some­one else’s travel doc­u­ment and you can­not give a sim­ple ex­pla­na­tion of why it is with you, you have com­mit­ted an of­fence. It is enough to

prove that the sus­pect was as at that time try­ing to traf­fic in per­son (s). We need to cre­ate those kinds of of­fences that are eas­ier to prove. With those types of lit­tle ones you can ac­tu­ally take peo­ple out of the sys­tem. The prob­lem with our pros­e­cu­tion sys­tem is that we al­ways go for big of­fences. There is the need for such level of re­form and I be­lieve that we are mak­ing progress”, Idigbe said.

Board Mem­ber of CWAG, African Al­liance Part­ner­ship, Mr. Markus Green, said: "The whole is­sue is about the vic­tim. The jus­tice sys­tem serves to pro­tect the vic­tim. Pun­ish­ment is im­por­tant, but the most im­por­tant is to bring peace to the vic­tim and pro­tect the vic­tim from harm".

The Cross River State At­tor­ney-Gen­eral and Com­mis­sioner for Jus­tice, Mr. Joe Abang, said the en­demic na­ture of the hu­man traf­fick­ing men­ace in the State, was wor­ri­some.

"It is re­ported that Cal­abar has be­come the tran­sit haven for traf­fick­ers, who as a re­sult of the clam­p­down on their ac­tiv­i­ties in neigh­bour­ing states like Edo, have re­lo­cated to Cal­abar, tak­ing ad­van­tage of the low crime rate to per­pe­trate their ne­far­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties. They use the ports and var­i­ous creeks in the area, to trans­port their vic­tims to coun­tries like Cameroon, Equa­to­rial Guinea and Gabon, among oth­ers. But I have bad news for them. Cross River State has never been and will never be a hid­ing place for crim­i­nals. We will use ev­ery ma­chin­ery of gov­ern­ment at our new dis­posal, to en­sure that the long arm of the law catches up with them", the Com­mis­sioner said.

The Com­mis­sioner com­mended NAPTIP for their ef­forts in check­ing hu­man traf­fick­ing in the coun­try.

L-R: Di­rec­tor of Jus­tice Di­vi­sion, Utah At­tor­ney-Gen­eral’s Of­fice, United States, Mr. Gre­gory Fer­brache, a work­shop fa­cil­i­ta­tor, Chief An­thony Idigbe, SAN, and Chief of Spe­cial In­ves­ti­ga­tions and Pub­lic Cor­rup­tion Unit, Utah At­tor­ney-Gen­eral’s Of­fice, Mr. Nate Mut­ter, dur­ing a one­day work­shop on hu­man traf­fick­ing pros­e­cu­tion and vic­tims’ fund and pro­tec­tion, in Cal­abar last Tues­day

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.