Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja
In view of the inadequacies of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Person (NAPTIP) Enforcement and Administration Act 2003 and the 2015 amendment to the Act, the Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has called for a stiffer penalties for human traffickers through the enactment of Trafficking in Persons Prohibition, Enforcement and Administration Amendment Bill 2018.
Dogara, while addressing a two-day consultative meeting of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Inter-Parliamentary Relations with a delegation of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, United Kingdom Branch (CPA-UK) and other stakeholders, lamented that despite the dangers of modern-day slavery, previous legislations have not effectively curbed the menace.
He described the growing spate of human trafficking as “one of the worst cases of inhuman treatment and wickedness of man to fellow human beings.”
Dogara also attributed the high incident of poverty, social distress and growing rate of crime to the trend. He said Nigeria is worst hit by human trafficking because it occupies a central position in West Africa.
According to him, “The establishment of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) through the NAPTIP Enforcement and Administration Act 2003, was one of the first decisive steps taken by the Nigerian government to curb the illicit human trafficking enterprise. In 2005, the parliament passed an Act to amend the law, which increased the penalties for trafficking offences to a minimum of five years imprisonment, among others. However, in spite of the various improvements in the law, the envisaged effective apprehension and conviction of offenders have not been achieved.”
Canvassing the need for the Trafficking in Persons Prohibition, Enforcement and Administration (Amendment) Bill 2018, the Speaker noted that “The Bill, which seeks to amend the 2015 Act, will establish Special Trafficking Court, expand the composition of the Governing Board of NAPTIP by including members from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), increase penalties and criminalise certain offences,” stressing that “This Bill, when passed into law, will help to tame the hydra-headed monster of human trafficking, sexual exploitation and related offences.
Also addressing the stakeholders gathered at the event which held at the National Assembly premises, the Director General, NAPTIP, Dame Julie Okah-Donli, said out of the 6000 case of human trafficking reported to the agency, 3600 cases have been addressed and that victims are being rehabilitated.
She said: “The agency has ten shelters across Nigeria and through our protection programmes, we have rescued and rehabilitated 13, 345 victims of trafficking in person from inception. A good number of them have been empowered with formal education and vocational skills for meaningful living.”