Professor Fatima Waziri-Azi, the Director General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), revealed that the agency has achieved a significant milestone in combating human trafficking. Since 2004, they have successfully secured 624 convictions, with 80 of them attained last year, marking the highest number of convictions to date. Additionally, in 2023, they have already achieved 48 convictions.
The DG made these announcements during the Anti-human Trafficking Awareness Walk in Abuja, under the theme ‘Footprints of Hope: A 20 Year Journey.’
Regarding the punishment of human traffickers, Professor Fatima Waziri-Azi emphasized that Nigeria has a robust legal framework in place. The Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Enforcement and Administration Act, enacted in 2003, covers 22 different punishments, addressing various aspects such as sexual exploitation, labor exploitation, child labor, trafficking of persons for organ removal, debt bondage, slavery, and activities resembling slavery.
“In terms of our criminal justice system here in Nigeria, I will say NAPTIP has secured a total of 624 convictions since the first conviction was secured in 2004 and just last year, we were able to secure 80 convictions which is the highest in any single year since the inception of NAPTIP,” Waziri-Azi stated.
“As at today in 2023, we have already secured 48 convictions and counting. So in terms of laws and policies, I will say that Nigeria is very well placed in dissuading traffickers and would be traffickers but then when you think of the enormity, I think we can do more in terms of prosecution and convictions.”
Matthias Schmale, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, highlighted that the objective of this year’s World Day Against Trafficking in Persons is to increase awareness about concerning developments and trends revealed in the latest UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons.
Represented by the Deputy Representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, (UNODC), Nigeria, Danilo Campisi, stated that “The 2022 report informs us that 41% of West African victims are trafficked for sexual exploitation and 57% for forced labour. Nigerians represent by far the highest number of identified Victims of trafficking in West Africa”.
“Furthermore, the report shows a significant decrease in the number of Nigerian victims being identified and rescued in Western countries, while witnessing a significant increase in West Africa, the Gulf, and Asia.”
Campisi emphasized that significant efforts are being made to impose strict penalties on human trafficking offenders. However, he underscored that combating this heinous crime requires a collective effort from everyone, highlighting the importance of global cooperation.
Regarding the awareness walk’s relevance to their anti-human trafficking endeavors, Adeniyi Baker, the Program Assistant at the International Center for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), explained that the walk symbolizes a united front against human trafficking. It serves as a powerful representation of collaboration, as people from all walks of life come together to eradicate human trafficking from society.
“This is so significant because we are marking the World Day Against Human Trafficking and we have seen all partners including international stakeholders.
“The number of interventions that has also been undertaken in the country has significantly increased and the impact is also felt in the society especially at the grassroots level because I know for the international centre for migration policy development, supported by the Kingdom of Netherlands, we supported NAPTIP in a couple of projects like medical outreach to victims of human trafficking at the shelters,” he notes.