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21,000 trafficking victims rescued in 20 years – NAPTIP

The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons has said it rescued and received 21,181 victims of human trafficking in 20 years.

The Director General of NAPTIP, Prof. Fatima Waziri-Azi, said this when she appeared before the Senate Committee on Social Duties for the defence of the 2024 budget.

She said the agency would try to support victims as long as they needed to be supported, noting that the process required time and a lot of money.

She explained that NAPTIP provides legal, medical support, rehabilitation and reintegration support to victims.

Waziri-Azi stated that in 2022, “NAPTIP rescued and received 2, 748 victims, which was 1,274 more victims that were rescued in 2022.”

She added, “From January to November 2023, we have already rescued and received 2,200 victims.

“Our shelter in Lagos has so far received the highest number of victims, followed by Katsina because of the borders, Kano and FCT shelters.

She said in 2021 and 2022, Benue State had the highest number of rescued victims, followed by Ondo, Edo, Delta Kano and Imo states.

She added, “As part of our prosecuting mandate, last year, we secured 80 convictions, which was the highest in any single year since inception.

“Since this year began, we have already secured 63 convictions and counting, including the conviction of a high-level trafficker in Benin that was responsible for trafficking 12 girls to Belgium for human trafficking and sexual exploitation.”

She also told the committee that for the first time, the agency secured the conviction of a Lebanese, who was involved in trafficking and exploiting Nigerian girls.

The NAPTIP DG noted, “So in 20 years, NAPTIP has secured  639 convictions and counting, and on March 8, for the first time in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Justice, the Interpol, the Italian government, a high-profile trafficker, Charity Omoye, was extradited to Italy to serve her 13 years sentence.”

She said the enhanced visibility and activities of the organisation had put a challenge on the organisation as the complaints on human trafficking had increased.

She added, “In 2022, the agency received 1,462 human trafficking complaints which was plus 31 .9 per cent from the number received in 2021.

“This has caused a serious strain on our human and financial resources and the challenges confronting the organization are enormous.”

She said NAPTIP 2023 budget  appropriated a total of N2bn based on the envelope to the organisation, while in 2024 N3bn was being projected as total revenue for the organisation.

She said NAPTIP relies on donour organisations for its operational activities, saying that was not sustainable.

The chairman of the committee, Senator Shehu Kaka, said the committee would pay an oversight visit to the offices of NAPTIP for an on-the-spot assessment of its activities.

He added, “Effort would be made in the areas of budgetary allocation to the organisation given the vantage role it played in the society.”

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