The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has identified interference of victims of suspected traffickers as one of the major challenges militating against their prosecution.
Director, Training and Manpower Development, NAPTIP, Orakwue Arinze disclosed this in Awka, Anambra State during a 2-day consultative workshop with stakeholders on developing approaches to combating trafficking in persons.
The workshop organized by NAPTIP in collaboration with USAID-SCALE Project and Network Against Child Trafficking, Abuse and Labour (NACTAL) was attended by representatives of CSOs, NGOs, ASATU women executives, security agencies amongst others.
Orakwue also listed inadequate resources, lack of periodic intervention funds, limited support from states as well as absence of budget line for the implementation of the Violent Against Person’s Prohibition (VAPP) Act in the federal capital territory as challenges confronting the Agency.
He reassured the Agency’s commitment to ensure culprits were brought to justice for their crimes against others, infringement or affront on the law.
He said, “We have lots of cases under violence against persons. Unfortunately, prosecution of VAP cases doesn’t come as much as cases of Trafficking in Persons.
“One of the factors militating against prosecution to such laws has been interference of actually the victims who will come with excuses of family influence, pressure, requesting we should simply warn the culprit and dismiss him.
“NAPTIP doesn’t warn culprits, we take them to court because that is the law. Ours is to ensure culprits are brought to justice for their crimes against others or infringement or affront on the law.
“Besides, it’s not NAPTIP responsibility to appear before the court, but the culprit and victims that would explain what happened. But when the victims refuses to allow the law takes its full course, it becomes a challenge.
“There’s no reduction of cases of VAP, instead, it’s towering because these are crimes that happen under the raider. But a lot of advocacy and public enlightenment has been brought to bear which has drastically reduced level of ignorance of people.
“Currently, there are 28 taskforce of TIP in 28 states with the mandate of bringing cases of TIP to the front burner in those states.”
Commissioner for Women Affairs, Ify Obinabo regretted growing cases of child trafficking in the state, describing location and cashflow as major attractions of traffickers to the state.
She said, “It was said that Anambra houses the largest market in West Africa. That will give you an insight to why the rush to the state. Everyone wants to partake in the supposed cashflow of the state, legally or otherwise.
“The traffickers will lure their victims with the impression they have solutions to all their problems. The gullible ones, who mostly are not from the state are trapped.
“Some of the victims would graduate to being recruited as traffickers themselves. They don’t have mercy and conscience while luring their victims.”
While identifying funding as major challenge in tackling cases of trafficking and other related cases, the commissioner canvassed support from parents, Civil Society Organisations, religious and traditional leaders in fighting the scourge.
“Parents should be open to their children that these things exist. The church, traditional rulers, vigilante and other stakeholders should join in advocacy. Ministry of Women Affairs and NAPTIP can’t be everywhere,” she added.
Earlier, Social Protection Advisor, Palladuin International, Barr. Eric Umoru said the agency way taking necessary steps to check cases of trafficking in persons in the zone, urging participants to implement the knowledge gotten in the course of the meeting to help reduce the menace a to the barest minimum.
“Recently, we’ve been getting reports of growing cases of trafficking in the state. We felt it was important to engage stakeholders to develop local solutions and action plans to the menace
“Trafficking is booming in the Southeast and Anambra is peculiar because it’s a hub, source, transit and destination state due to its location and booming commerce nature.
“It will take sustained investment and collaboration from government, CSOs and international partners to address the scourge.”
Also speaking, National President, Network Against Child Trafficking, Abuse and Labour (NACTAL), Abdulganiyu Abubakar called on parents to be vigilant and ensure proper education of their children, just as he called for government increased engagement with Civil Societies and media for grassroots’ advocacy.