By Chiemelie Ezeobi and Yinka Kolawole in Osogbo
The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), yesterday said 540 Nigerian deported from Libya will arrive Lagos this August.
In a related development, the Director-General of the National Agency For The Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons(NAPTIP), Julie Okah-Donli has said that the agency had rescued and supported over 12,000 victims and secured 325 convictions.
Already, the first tranche of 180 deportees arrived Lagos on Thursday night, just as the Agency partnered the Tony Elumelu Foundation.
The DG said this during a courtesy visit to the founder of Heirs Holdings, Tony Elumelu, who also doubles as the Chairman of United Bank of Africa.
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, 180 had already arrived.
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, over 2000 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.”
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 rehabilitate our existing shelters, periodic provision of food, clothing and medical consumables to shelter to help victims.
“Assistance in the development of standard skills acquisition centers 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, she said their main challenge was 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 United Bank for Africa (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 onboard 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.”
While inaugurating Oshogbo command of NAPTIP, Okah-Donli said the new dimension and most frightening now was the harvesting of organs and vital human parts for sale by traffickers.
The NAPTIP boss lamented that “nobody including adults is safe, the inaction or self- denial will not only accelerate the frightening dimension of this crime but also make the menace protracted”.
She said the trend of deportation of Nigerians from different parts of the world especially in Africa in recent times was frightening.
In his remarks, the Governor of Osun State, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola who was represented by his Special Adviser on Security, Mr. Tope Adejumo, reiterated the commitment of the governor to strengthen the partnership with NAPTIP to stem the tide of human trafficking in the country and Osun in particular.
He explained that the agency and state government had over the years enjoyed a good working relationship and more efforts would be put to strengthen the relationship further.
“Government of Osun is more than ready to support the agency to rid the state of the menace of human trafficking and also extend the support to all other Federal Government Agencies in the state”.
Aregbesola re-assured all sister law enforcement that his administration will continue to prosecute programmes which will usher-in Ã‚ an era of peace and prosperity for the good people of the state.
Also speaking, the Former Governor of Osun state, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola said there was need to take the campaign of trafficker’s to the grassroots.
The former governor assured the agency and the good people of Osun to stem the tide of trafficker’s.