In a bid to tackle the menace of human trafficking headlong, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) Thursday partnered the founder of Heir Holdings and Chairman of United Bank for Africa (UBA), Mr. Tony Elumelu.
The Director General of NAPTIP, Julie Okah-Donli, who said this during a courtesy visit to Elumelu, added that 540 Nigerian deportees from Libya will arrive Lagos this August.
Giving a further breakdown of the ills of human trafficking and its effects on the society, she said out of the 540 to be deported, the first batch of 180 would arrive Lagos Thursday.
She said: “In 2017, we have witnessed mass deportation of Nigerians from various countries including Libya. This is further draining our very lean budget.
“This year alone, over 2,000 Nigerians have been deported from Libya alone. It may interest you to note that we are expecting the deportation of no fewer than 540 Nigerians from Libya in three batches this August. The first batch of 180 will arrive Lagos tonight (Thursday).”
On the support needed, she said: “We need provision of financial and logistics support including operational vehicles and work tools, sponsorship of some of the agency’s project and programmes.
“We need to refurbish and rehabilitation of our existing shelters, periodic provision of food, clothing and medical consumables to shelter to help victims.
“Assistance in the development of standard skills acquisition centres in some strategic locations in Nigeria for training of vulnerable and indigent persons, as well as rescued victims.
“Also, we need education empowerment for victims, capacity development for personnel of the agency, sponsorship of awareness campaigns on the problem through various platforms including the media.”
On the achievements of the agency, she said: “We have recorded a number of milestones including the conviction of no fewer than 325 persons.
“Already, over 12,000 victims have passed through NAPTIP shelters and we have given psychological support, provided skills, education, medical supports, empowerment and reintegrated to their families and society.”
Despite all these achievements, Okah-Donli said their main challenge is funding, adding that: “Human trafficking generates more than $150 billion annually across the globe. However, the funding to fight it in Nigeria has been grossly inadequate.”
In his speech, Elumelu expressed pride at the elevation of Okah-Donli to head the agency, adding that she was once a product of the UBA.
He said: “She was our product in UBA, thus we are not surprised at what she has become. We have known she will get to this level because of the passion she has for stopping human trafficking.
“We support what you are doing and we stand behind you. The Tony Elumelu Foundation believes in the empowerment of our youths and they cannot be empowered if they are not free.
“We stand with you in eradicating human trafficking in Nigeria. We all engage more with you as you try to restore dignity to mankind and make sure our youths have self dignity and no one can take undue advantage of them.
“Sale of human and body part is an ungodly act and it’s despicable. I call on the federal government that started this good role to make more resources available to support you.
“Private companies pay tax to the federal government and we want to see a more judicious use of those tax paid.”
Calling on private organisations to join the fight, he said: “They need to come on board because we can vouch for her (DG NAPTIP) forthrightness.
“If she succeeds, we will all succeed. We will make sure our future leaders are not trafficked.”
Also, the Group Chief Executive Officer, United Capital PLC, Oluwatoyin Sanmi, joined the campaign in condemning human trafficking.
She said: “I condemn the heinous scourge of human trafficking. I believe every Nigerian should rally around her (DG NAPTIP) call and fight the scourge to a standstill.
“Support her with funds and resources. Also report suspicious movement in your communities. Let’s join hands to make sure no female or male is trafficked.”