The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP and the Lagos State Government are to strengthen their partnership in the fight against human trafficking in Lagos State. This was the outcome of a meeting yesterday at Alausa, Ikeja between the Director-General of NAPTIP, Julie Okah-Donli and the State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode.
The Director-General had at the meeting where the Governor was represented by the State’s Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr (Mrs) Lola Akande sought better partnership with the State Government in stemming the tide of human trafficking in Nigeria and Lagos State in particular.
She stated that the Agency and the State Government have over the years enjoyed a good working relationship but added that the new dimension of organ harvesting has become worrisome and calls for renewed and greater partnership amongst state and non state actors to tackle as ‘’no one is safe anymore from the claws of human traffickers’’.
She explained that human trafficking has gone beyond the usual sexual and labour exploitation and assumed the dangerous dimension of organ harvesting across the globe where victims are daily murdered 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.
She therefore, called on the Lagos State Government to join hands with the Agency in order to ensure that victims rescued within and around the state are effectively catered for. To achieve this, she stated that the two parties must work together in the establishment of projects that would impact positively on the lives of rescued victims.
While commending the Governor on the giant strides recorded in the state by his administration within two years, the NAPTIP Boss stated that the Agency since 2004 when it established the Zonal Command in the State has enjoyed a cordial relationship with various organs of the State government.
Julie Okah-Donli informed the Governor that the Agency has recorded 325 convictions of traffickers and rescued over 12,000 victims of trafficking since inception, out of which 4,495 were catered for by the Agency through the Lagos Command’s shelter. She pointed out that due to its proximity to major airports, seaports and land borders, Lagos state is sadly endemic in human trafficking as it is a source, transit and destination state for human trafficking activities. She however, added that the recent massive deportation of Nigerians especially from Libya, has immensely increased the volume of victims the Agency caters for at any given time in Lagos State.
Based on the enormity of the problem of human trafficking in the State, the Director General appealed to Governor Akinwumi Ambode to kindly extend to NAPTIP, the state Government’s assistance enjoyed by other sister crime fighting Agencies in the state. She explained that NAPTIP remains the only law enforcement Agency in Nigeria that works to prevent the crime from happening through awareness creation, prosecutes offenders and takes care of victims of the crime. These, she stated are great challenges that require assistance from all actors.
She therefore, urged the Governor to help the Agency in the area of logistical support including the provision of operational vehicles and ambulances for emergency needs of victims, skill acquisition and education empowerment for victims as well as food items and other consumables for the NAPTIP Shelter in Lagos to help assist the rescued victims.
She however, assured the Government and people of Lagos state that NAPTIP under her watch, will not compromise standards, promising that the provisions of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act (TIPEA) 2015, would be implemented appropriately.
Responding, the State Governor who commended the Agency for the milestones recorded so far assured the NAPTIP Boss of greater partnership from the State. While stating that Government cannot win the fight against human trafficking without the partnership of all stakeholders, he, called for all hands to be on deck to reduce the menace of trafficking in persons in Nigeria to the barest minimum.
PRO, Lagos Command
For: Head, Press and Public Relations (NAPTIP)