From INI FRIDAY, Uyo
The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has said it rescued a total of 132 persons this year from human traffickers in Akwa Ibom State.
Of this number, 40 per cent or 53 are from Oron axis of the State, which is considered by human traffickers as a strategic gateway to the Atlantic Ocean, according to the Director General of NAPTIP, Dame Julie Okah-Donli.
Speaking earlier today in Uyo while inaugurating the State Task Force on Human Trafficking, Okah-Donli said the ages of the rescued victims ranged from five months to 34 years.
She mentioned that 40 of the victims were rescued from sex exploitation, 28 from baby sellers, 23 from labour exploitation, while others were for other sundry exploitation issues.
She commended the Nigerian Navy and other security agencies in the State for their continued assistance to the agency in combating human trafficking, adding that more would be achieved with increased support from the media, religious and traditional institutions.
The DG said the establishment of the State Task Forces on Human Trafficking came as a component of the agency’s strategic thrust with the aim of expanding its frontiers and enhancing robust partnerships in the fight against human trafficking in the country.
She explained that the task force was designed to enhance State and non-State multi-sectoral responses to the nefarious act of human trafficking in Nigeria, adding that the force would enhance comprehensive prevention and coordinated legal and other services for trafficked victims through capacity building, technical assistance and institutional development.
“The overall objective of the task force is the coordination and reactivation of technical inter-agency cooperation meetings with key stakeholders including donors, development partners, law enforcement agencies, MDAs and NGOs to enhance the capacities of State and non-state actors as well as multi-sectoral response towards improving partnerships.
“These partnerships are aimed at the prevention of human trafficking, protection of victims of human trafficking, offering access to justice for victims of trafficking, prosecution of traffickers and enhancement of the process of successful restoration of victims of trafficking to the state of physical, psychological, social, vocational and economic wellbeing,” she said.
Also speaking, the Project Officer, Counter Trafficking and Mixed Migration in the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Mr Betham Ngurum said the organisation has rescued more than 17,000 Nigerians involved in illegal migration in Libya, Mali and other parts of the world since 2017.
Ngurum said that over 6,771 of them have so far been rehabilitated, with 45 of them from Akwa Ibom, adding that there have been requests from different parts of the Middle East for the reparation of 550 Nigerians.