The Director-General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, Julie Okah-Donli has raised the alarm that human traffickers are now on the prowl as the scourge of human trafficking has assumed a dangerous dimension of harvesting of vital organs and body parts of their victims for sale. She explained that many people have fallen victim to the criminal gangs due to ignorance and carelessness while their relatives are oblivious of their present state.
The Director General raised the alarm in Lagos while on a courtesy visit to the Executive Secretary, Nigeria National Summit Group (NNSG), Mr. Tony Uranta.
‘’Many Nigerians, due to ignorance, daily facilitate the continuous proliferation of the crime of human trafficking and the crime has gone beyond trafficking for prostitution and servitude, having extended to the scary and dangerous dimension of organ harvesting. This is a crime that has far reaching socio-economic effects on Nigeria’’, she stated.
She explained that human traffickers now murder their victims on daily basis in the process of extracting their vital organs and body parts for sale. This, according to her, gives the trafficking gangs better and quick profits than sexual and labour exploitation which profit takes longer time to mature.
She said that as a result of this new dimension, no one is safe anymore and nobody knows who the next victim might be as the traffickers have become more vicious in their activities and also have lots of money at their disposal to perpetrate their criminal activities. She however, added that following the recent repatriation of Nigerians especially from Libya, and the frequency of cases reported to the Agency, more information and intelligence are being gathered on the activities of human traffickers involved in the trafficking of Nigerians.
Okah-Donli, therefore, called for concerted efforts by all State and non State actors in Nigeria to stop the criminal gangs from operating in Nigeria. She explained that NAPTIP has raised the consciousness of its operatives in this area.
She said that the dwindling fortunes on the nation’s economy was affecting the work of the Agency hence, the need for the private sector to lend support for the fight which if allowed to continue will have very dangerous effects on the future of the country. ‘’This problem has been left for too long in the hands of the federal government alone. Let public spirited individuals and corporations join hands with us for greater success’’, she added.
While commending Mr. Tony Uranta on his individual effort in the development and growth of Nigeria especially in the areas of peace and security, she urged him to lend his voice to the anti-human trafficking movement in Nigeria. She also appealed to him to partner with the Agency and help network and get the organized private sector involved in the fight against trafficking in persons in Nigeria.
The Director General also disclosed that the Agency has commenced a massive sensitization campaign to increase the level of awareness and start up a discourse which would bring to the public consciousness, the need to reduce to its barest minimum, the inhumane act of human trafficking. The NAPTIP Director General also called on the media to give more prominence to the issue of human trafficking in order to help change the present narrative.
Responding, Mr. Tony Uranta, a renowned activist, society development expert and patriot decried the state of the nation especially in the human trafficking index. He stated that it was unfortunate that Nigeria had degenerated so much that she is now a source country for organ harvesting and that the North-East, due to the recent crises, is now a source of heavy activities of human trafficking and worst forms of exploitation. ‘’Nigerians must realize that human trafficking is not just about trafficking of young Nigerian girls from Edo state for prostitution abroad, many are now trafficked for organ harvesting and to feed the perverse desires of a group of perverts within and outside the country. There is an urgent need for the Nigerian government to invest immensely in the eradication of this dehumanizing crime.
Mr. Uranta stated that he has been concerned with the issue of human trafficking and the need to eradicate it in Nigeria, for over 10 years, stressing that the narrative on human trafficking in the nation must change, as it is a crime that has long reaching socio-economic effects on Nigeria.
He however, called on the Nigerian government to drastically increase the Agency’s budgetary allocation to enable it carry out the enormous mandate of preventing human trafficking and protecting victims of human trafficking. He warned that NAPTIP ‘’must not be treated as an organ of government established to fulfill all righteousness but one that must make an impact’’.
Mr. Uranta also called on the private sector to join in the fight against human trafficking, charging them to channel their ‘social investing’ funds towards changing the lives of victims of trafficking in persons. He assured the Director General and her team, of his commitment towards facilitating the involvement of the organized public sector (OPS) in the fight against trafficking in persons.
‘’I am honoured by the visit and commit myself to making the Anti-human trafficking course a priority, only second to my drive for a restructured Nigeria’’’, he stated.
PRO, Lagos Command
For: Press and Public Relations (NAPTIP)