The Director-General, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, Julie Okah-Donli has revealed that no fewer than 1,134 Nigerians have been deported from various parts of the world back to Nigeria in the past three months (From February to April 2017).
In a statement by spokesman to NAPTIP, Josiah Emerole, the deportations followed various migration offences including human trafficking, smuggling of migrants, non-possession of valid travel documents, among others.
“Of the number, a total of 905 were deported from Libya in 5 batches; 115 from Italy in 4 batches; 41 from Mali; 26 from Burkina Faso; 14 from Ghana; 22 from the United Arab Emirate (Dubai); 1 from Cameroun; 8 from Cote D’Voire and 2 from Togo,” Mrs Okah-Donli said.
She said although the figure was both alarming and embarrassing, it was still a far cry from the number of persons including victims of human trafficking stranded across various countries especially in Africa awaiting assistance to return home. “Those stranded include the over 5000 reportedly stranded in Mali alone”.
Describing the figures as unacceptable, the DG called for concerted efforts by all Nigerians to resolve stressing that the Agency was already in talks with Federal Authorities to assist the Agency in regular evacuation of stranded Nigerians who have indicated interest in returning home.
As part of her repositioning efforts, she explained that the Agency under her leadership will engage government at all levels as well as other stakeholders and foreign partners in a robust manner to ensure that all factors that create vulnerability for trafficking in persons, smuggling of migrants and other forms of illegal migration of Nigerians were addressed comprehensively.
She also disclosed that her reform efforts at the Agency will in a very short while return Nigeria to the Tier 1 in the United States of America’s ranking of countries compliance to the minimum standards in the fight against human trafficking. Nigeria was downgraded from Tier 1 to Tier 2 in 2012 due to a number of issues which the American Government said were not in compliance with the minimum standards.
She said, “I know the Country was at a point in Tier-1 in the fight against human trafficking but sadly, we went down to Tier-2. With your assistance and renewed dedication to work, the agency will move Nigeria back to Tier-1 because that is where we belong. My dear colleagues, please join me in this effort to restore the agency’s lost glory so we can collectively combat the menace of trafficking in persons and bring Nigeria back to Tier-1 where we should permanently be’’.
“We must collectively eradicate all forms of corruption within the system especially in investigation of reported cases of trafficking and any staff caught in this practice will be dealt with in line with the provisions of the civil service rule and thereafter handed over to ICPC office for further necessary action if found guilty” she stated.
She also placed a temporary ban on all foreign and local trainings except for fully sponsored trainings while a committee was raised to look into all complaints of officers including placement of staff in past employment exercises with a view to adequately addressing them.
The meeting was aimed at exchanging ideas on how to reposition the agency for better service delivery to the country.