THE National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) says it has convicted over 500 traffickers and rescued over 18,000 victims of human trafficking across the country from 2004 till date.
Nduka Nwawene, Uyo Zonal Commander of NAPTIP, revealed this in an interview with newsmen on Thursday in Calabar, Cross River State.
Nwawene was speaking at the event commemorating the 2020 World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.
World Day Against Trafficking in Persons is celebrated annually on July 30, following a United Nations’ declaration on the need to raise awareness on the plight of trafficked victims across the world.
The theme of the 2020 commemoration is “Committed to the Cause, Working on the Front Line to End Human Trafficking” which focuses on the efforts of first responders to the issue of trafficking.
According to the NAPTIP chief, women and girls constituted over 70 per cent of trafficked victims in Nigeria and the world, hence the importance of the commemoration to
He added that Nigeria is a source and breeding ground for traffickers and trafficked victims.
”Nigeria is a source for transit and destination country for traffickers and has been very much affected by this malaise, both internally and externally,” Nwawene said.
“Even during the lockdown, victims who were Europe bound were rescued by first responders and brought to our command.”
He noted that many people always claim they want to travel abroad because of the poverty in the country, believing that they can pluck gold on the streets of Europe.
“But they are deceived by the traffickers because they are smuggled out and over there, they discover a different scenario and become slaves,” Nwawene said.
“Other reasons why people get trafficked include ignorance, peer group influence, globalisation and even family pressures.
“If not for NAPTIP and the sister agencies like the Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigeria Police, Ministry of Women Affairs and others, the situation of trafficking in the country would have been more terrible.”
Nwawene advised Nigerians to be vigilant, so that no one would fall victim of the antics of traffickers,as they usually convince their victims to take oath of secrecy and not tell anyone of their plans.
Adding that parents must also stop mounting pressure on their children to travel out and endanger their lives so as to send money back home, Nwawene said. parents who pressure their children into such acts would be punished if caught.
“Because of the family pressure, many of them end up as sex slaves in all sorts of dehumanizing conditions. If we get any of such parents, they will be prosecuted,” he said.