BY Victoria Ogunrinde
The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has partnered to tackle the issue of trafficking of persons and smuggling of migrants in Nigeria and across the world.
The Comptroller General, NIS, Muhammed Babandede while speaking in Abuja on Wednesday at the Joint Stakeholders Dialogue on Trafficking in Persons (TP) and Smuggling of Migrants (SOM) noted that the partnership in important and if well harnessed will deal with organized crimes in trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants.
According to Babandede, the partnership between the duo is based on prevention of traffickers, protection of victims and prosecution of perpetrators.
Meanwhile, Babandede noted that to galvanize the partnership, there must be a change in the narrative and as such, organized crimes should be tackled headlong, but unfortunately, there is no provision for it.
“We want partnership in combating trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, unless we deal with organized crime, we are going nowhere.
“We need to strengthen our capacity to tackle organized crimes, unless we do this, trafficking will continue.”
He added that the partnership goes beyond just partners in progress but as an individual ready to bring the desired change.
“I promise to always be a partner and also a resource person in NAPTIP so that I can contribute in ensuring that protection of our children and women against exploitation, especially outside the country.”
He thereby implore all to join hands together to fight the menace.
“Today we decided to put trafficking and smuggling together, because they are connected, NAPTIP has domesticated trafficking, Immigration has domesticated movement of migrants, I want every officer in both NAPTIP and Immigration to be committed to this.”
“If Nigeria do it well, the world will be good because most of our victims are spreading around the world, so welcome to NIS and welcome to the new change of partnership.”. He added.
The Director – General, NAPTIP, Imaan Ibrahim on her own part noted that NAPTIP will focus on growth and preventive measures so that they can solve the problem from the root causes with that they can make sustained progress.
Ibrahim added that “Going forward as an agency, we will like to fight differently, paying very important attention to our relationships because this crime is a big industry worth over $150 billion and to fight it, we need a societal approach and every hands on deck.”
She further affirm that fighting this cause with NIS gives NAPTIP comfort and desired result.
“As a team we are committed with renewed vision to make sure that we work with all the stakeholders as partners in progress.
She added that NAPTIP will continue to work with the five approaches of policy prevention, protection, prosecution and strengthening partnerships.
“we have the political will to do this and we will fully take advantage of that.”
We will continue the joint operations to dismantle the traffickers at all the entry points.”
Pledging her commitment, Ibrahim said
“the fight to combat trafficking in persons and Smuggling of migrants requires high level commitment and from our own side, we are more than committed, we have a renewed energy to move this fight, as we prepare to rebrand NAPTIP, I can count on all of you and in us you will find partners in progress.”.
The Country Representative, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Dr. Oliver Stoop noted COVID – 19 and its economic consequences have drastically increase the vulnerability of victims that are at risk.
He added that low wages, poverty and situation of people living in refugee camps have been on the run is dramatic and has increase the liability to be recruited and being trafficked, and as such an eye opener to step up their efforts.
According to Stoop, in West Africa, the plight of human trafficking is predominantly carried by children, 80% of the victims are under the age of 18.
“We therefore need to step up our preventive risk communication effort, targets the population at risk with gender sensitive approach and drive this to the grassroots including the use of social media.
Collectively, he said, NAPTIP, NIS, UN and other stakeholders need to improve their capacity to provide support for the protection of victims of trafficking and migrants.
He added that it is important that they scale up the criminal justice response to trafficking in person and smuggling of migrants.
“Presently, investigations are few, convictions are even fewer and that makes trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants a low risk and high rate of crime with increase interest in high rate of organized crime thus, increasing the vulnerability in general.”
“We must not ignore the domestic form of trafficking, particularly child trafficking, that remains why trafficking remains a transnational crime, we need to strengthen our efforts and capabilities of using respectively international instruments, particularly, UN convention against transnational against crime and its protocols against smuggling of migrants”
He added that in order to drive this, they need to strengthen our data mechanism and evidence based approach.
Furthermore, he said they need to improve their ability in managing and analyzing the data to ensure evidenced based and efficient responses to protect migrants and victims of trafficking and to bring traffickers and smugglers to justice.
Reiterating his commitment, he said
“My colleagues and I at the International Organization for migration, International Labour Organization, United Nations High Commissioner for refugees, UN Women, UNICEF and UNODC itself, we all look forwards to expanding and deepening our partnership with you.”.