Speaker House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal
By Onwuka Nzeshi
The House of Representatives Wednesday resolved to ensure the allocation of more resources to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), to enhance her capacity to combat human trafficking.
The resolution came on the heels of a motion brought before the House by 29 legislators.
Chairman, House Committee on Human Rights, Hon Beni Lar, who led the debate expressed concern that Nigeria was recently downgraded by the Department of State in the 2012 United States of America Trafficking in Persons Report.
She said the poor grading could be linked to certain challenges being experienced by NAPTIP particularly in the area of jurisdiction and inadequate resources.
According to Lar, human trafficking has caused untold hardship to many persons and families in Nigeria and there was need to tackle the problem headlong.
She said Nigeria may suffer further downgrade and could face international sanctions in her efforts to combat human trafficking unless steps were taken to strengthen NAPTIP in all aspects and ramifications.
The motion frowned upon the practice in Nigeria where many judges were in the habit of allowing convicted human traffickers the option of fine amounting to paltry sums of money. The lawmakers said this has been one of the sore points in the fight against human trafficking as such fines hardly discourages offenders from the crime.
Meanwhile, the House has mandated its Committees on Human Rights, Foreign Affairs, Interior and Justice to conduct investigation into the circumstances leading to the downgrading of Nigeria in the global fight against human trafficking.