The Director general, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) Dame Julie Okah –Donli has said 972 of the 5000 Nigerians located in different detention camps in Libya have already returned.
LEADERSHIP recalls that a Special Federal Government delegation last week had departed Abuja for Tripoli, the Libyan Capital on a facts finding mission on the level of the enslavement of Nigerians in that country.
The delegation was also to plan the mass evacuation of Nigerians trapped in the North African Country.
The delegation which was led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, included the Director-General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Dame Julie Okah-Donli, and the Senior Special Assistant to the President of Diaspora Matters, Hon. Abike Dabiri Erewa amongst others
Speaking while briefing Newsmen in Abuja yesterday, the DG said “Out of the over 5,000 Nigerians already located in different detention camps in Libya, 972 in two batches of 485 and 487 have already returned. This is even as she revealed that another batch of over 400 was to be returned yesterday”
Dame Donli said “Out of those returned so far, Edo state has 533 returnees, Delta 128, Yobe 28, Imo and Ogun 25 respectively, Ondo 17 and Oyo has 15”
She added that 27 states have had their indigenes returned while, 9 states and the FCT have not recorded any returnees, these include Borno, Adamawa, Gombe, Taraba, Bauchi, Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara and Niger.
“Nine pregnant ladies and 5 babies were also among the returnees. While two suspected traffickers were also arrested and are under investigation. Adding that a female returnee who was identified as a trafficker has been transferred to their Lagos Zonal Command for further investigation”
The DG however warned that any state government that is interested in the rehabilitation of the returnees from their states must meet the minimum standards for sheltering, rehabilitation and reunification of victims. She added that the guidelines can be accessed on the Agency’s Website I will like to state clearly that the welfare of these returnees especially the victims of human trafficking amongst them are taken care of.
“Our intension is to work with other stakeholders to ensure that the directives of Mr. President concerning their rehabilitation are carried out” She said
She noted that “For this reason, I wish to appeal to States that are already mounting pressure on the operations in Port Harcourt to take away their indigenes to ensure that those they are taking away are properly rehabilitated as releasing them into the streets without rehabilitation and other assistance may spell dome for the country and damage the image of the country”
This is even as she added that “Many of these people are coming straight from prisons and will require some debriefing and change of mindset and orientation before being released into the society”.
The NAPTIP head noted that“It is important to state here that we have set machineries in motion to fish out those involved in the trafficking or smuggling of these returnees and present them to the Courts for prosecution. This is the only way to ensure that proper justice is given to these people” she said
The DG further revealed that since the commencement of the operations, the agency had deployed over 40 personnel including Counselors, care givers, investigators and public enlightenment officers to Port Harcourt to assist in profiling the returnees and providing them with psychosocial assistance.
Our Shelters have been prepared to receive them while arrangements have been made to move some of them to shelters run by our partners when there is a spill over in ours.
Expressing her gratitude and those of the Management and Staff of NAPTIP, to President Muhammadu Buhari for the bold step in the evacuation of the trapped Nigerians in Libya, she said “This will go into history as the biggest evacuation of Nigerians ever by a Nigerian Government. It also shows the great interest of the President in the protection of the lives of Nigerian citizens no matter where they are across the globe and irrespective of their migration status.”
For us at NAPTIP, it has been a harrowing experience because despite the huge resources and energy that we and other stakeholders in the fight against human trafficking and irregular migration have expended, our fellow citizens still engage in the perilous journeys into the unknown”.
She said “As part of our plans to prevent the mass movement of our people out of the country through dangerous routes, we will raise the ante in our public enlightenment programmes
She assured that they are already engaging various stakeholders to join with their resources in awareness creation, adding that “Our officers will continue to move further into the hinterlands, the streets and other public places to educate members of the public on the ills of human trafficking and irregular migrations.
We also intend to use some of the returnees as advocates in our engagement with the public, especially in rural communities. We believe that when people hear the ugly experiences directly from those that have gone through that path, they will have a rethink. We need the support of all to get this done.
The DG maintained that “Human trafficking is a global phenomenon of serious concern and requires collective efforts in order to combat it. This is simply because of the attendant casualties and other negative effects that have characterized the migration aspect of trafficking.
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