In its determination to enhance the reportage of human trafficking issues and ensure proper media participation in the fight against human trafficking in Nigeria, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has inaugurated a Media Focus Group (MFG) on counter trafficking in Nigeria.
The inauguration which is part of the Agency’s strategic plan of involving the whole of society in the counter trafficking efforts of the Nigerian Government was performed recently in Minna, Niger State at the close of two-day training and capacity building of media practitioners in the country. Membership of the MFG is drawn from representatives of major print, electronic and social media organisations in Nigeria as well as some Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) involved in counter trafficking issues through the media.
Speaking at the inauguration, the Director-General, Mrs. Beatrice Jedy-Agba explained, ‘’the idea is to use it as a veritable platform for a robust relationship between the Agency and the Journalists that report issues of human trafficking in Nigeria. Under this platform, it becomes easier for us to build a working relationship with the media based on mutual trust and respect. It is our hope that this synergy that is being strengthened today will continue to grow so that we can improve in our rescue and assistance to our beloved fellows from the jaw of death’’.
On the training of the media, the Director-General stated the specific objectives to include: the improvement of media reportage of human trafficking, engendering a robust interaction between the media and NAPTIP on one hand, and the media and the society on the other hand in relation to human trafficking.
She disclosed that the training programme was one in the series of media interactions and engagements lined up to enhance media understanding of the prevalence and enormity of human trafficking as a phenomenon that is gradually eating into the fabric of the society.
According to her, one of the challenges facing NAPTIP is the misunderstanding of its mandate by the society, adding that the training was also designed to raise the capacity of the media on human trafficking issues and through them the society will be properly informed and to appreciate the challenges facing the Agency.
While outlining some of the provisions of the NAPTIP Act which according to her brought additional responsibilities to the Agency, the Mrs. Jedy-Agba tasked the media to give issues of trafficking in persons the desired attention just like corruption and other vices.
‘’Trafficking in human beings, especially women and girls, is not new. It is a complex, multi-faceted phenomenon involving multiple stakeholders at the institutional and commercial levels with a huge market for cheap labour and commercial sex. Specifically, the untold stories and sad tales that have punctuated issues of human trafficking across the globe and precisely in the sub-Sahara Africa, have further ruptured our emotion and propelled us to ensure that this menace is minimized if not eradicated. It is our conviction that this fight cannot be won alone without the collective support of the various stakeholders among whom is the media community’’, she stressed.
‘’Human trafficking is a complex type of crime that requires proper understanding on the part of the Media to enable them report appropriately and to ensure accurate reportage that is capable of eliciting the right emotions from members of the public. Prevention of human trafficking cannot be effective if the media does not join us in sounding this warning through anti-trafficking messages aimed at raising awareness of this crime. Same can be said of victims’ reintegration and empowerment. The plights of victims of human trafficking deserve our empathy, not our sympathy. They need to be protected from stigmatization. This is where we need the media to play a huge role’’, she further added.
On the Agency’s expectation from the media, she said, ‘’ our request from the media partners are very simple. We need you all to join hands with the Agency to fight this phenomenon so that our children and society at large can have peace. This could be in form of sustained media reportage of the activities of the Agency; coming up with good human interest stories that are capable of eliciting empathy for victims of the scourge; Naming and shaming the traffickers; and advising the Agency when the need arises. Also, the Agency will be happy to see you writing more features and magazine stories on human trafficking and its effects on society and the people so as to properly bring the problem to public domain’’.
Speaking earlier, the Head, Press and Public Relations of the Agency, Mr. Josiah Emerole, thanked the media practitioners for their supports and cooperation with the Agency especially in reporting the activities of the Agency. While emphasizing the importance of the media to the realization of the goals and mandates of the Agency, Mr. Emerole urged them to avail themselves of the opportunity of the new relationship to seek clarification on any areas of the operation of the Agency.
Two Journalists: Mr. Gabriel Odu of the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) and Uji Brenda Mngusuul of the Africa Independent Television (AIT) were honoured with NAPTIP Awards during the training for their diligence and investigative reporting on human trafficking. The undercover activity of Uji led to the rescue of some victims and the arrest of a trafficker who has also been convicted by the Court.
Presenting the Awards, the Director-General commended the Reporters and their Media organisations for partnering with the Agency in exposing activities of traffickers. She however, pledged to make the Award an annual event to honour and appreciate Media personalities and organisations whose operations helped reduce activities of human trafficking in Nigeria.
At the end of the training, the following communiqué was issued:
Increased and sustained advocacy visits by the Director General of the Agency or specifically the Press and Public Relations Unit to some critical partners and stakeholders both within the media and others.
Sustained, educative programmes, adverts, jingles, soap-opera, television series and documentary reports aimed at exposing the tricks and trends in human trafficking, as well as bill boards on electronic, print and social media platforms
Increased funding for NAPTIP by government and strategic partners
Strengthening investigation and enforcement strategies by the Agency.
Training of media editors as well as increased relationship with the National leadership of the NUJ as well as other state councils with a view to using such platform to enlighten people on the scourge of HT.
Sustained and regular training of Officers of NAPTIP in the Media Unit on latest media tools and social media campaign strategies in line with global media evolution.
The need for the media to be a whistle blower on the activities of human traffickers.
The need for domestication of the Child Rights Act by all states of the federation in addition to the establishment of Family court to address the scourge of child abuse and gender based violence.
There is the need for the media to assist in changing the narration of human trafficking with a view to protecting victims of trafficking and vulnerable people in the society through the reporting of human interest stories that could arouse the feeling of the people.
The need for the Agency to intensify collaboration with MDAs, and efforts should be made to fast-track the mainstreaming of TIP issues in school curriculum
The need for the Agency to expand its social media platform.
There is the need to create more awareness at the grassroots with a view to sensitizing them on dangers of TIP.
There is the need for the Agency to strengthen its collaboration with public spirited individuals and corporate bodies so as to bring their philanthropic gesture to bear on victims of TIP.