By Ruth Tene Natsa, Abuja
The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP and the Nigeria Immigrations Services (NIS) are to scale up intelligence sharing and joint border operations across the country as part of a coordinated plan to effectively prevent human trafficking and smuggling of migrants from Nigeria.
This was one of the agreements reached by the two organisations when the Director-General of NAPTIP, Julie Okah-Donli and the Management of the Agency made a working visit to the Headquarters of the NIS in Abuja.
In a statement to LEADERSHIP, it stated that “Arising from her presentation during the visit, the two organisations agreed on the need to collaborate more in the fight against human trafficking and smuggling of migrants.
In her speech, Okah-Donli recalled the existing relationship between the two organisations and stressed that the NIS remained a formidable partner whose assistance in the past had helped to ensure smooth operations of the Agency.
She said ‘’There is no doubt that NAPTIP and the NIS are like Siemese twins whose roles in the fight against irregular migration especially trafficking in persons are quite germane in the development of our dear country.
“Our relationship has blossomed over the years and we must do everything to ensure that it conforms with the good practices needed for quality service delivery to Nigerians and also to help Government achieve its dreams for the people. We cherish this relationship and are ready to do everything within our limits to make it more robust for the benefit of our future which the young people who are presently being enslaved by criminal elements represent.
On the re-invigorated activities of the Agency, Okah-Donli said, ‘’ We have taken measures to improve on our investigation activities by making it more intelligence driven and proactive. Based on these reforms in operations, we crave the indulgence of the CGI and the NIS generally to join us in making our plans worth the while. This can be done through more diligent operations of officers and men of the Service manning the entry points. We have always relied on the NIS to rescue victims and arrest traffickers at those entry points and transfer to us to deal further.
‘’I must commend you for your efforts so far. However, we will appreciate it if these activities could be improved upon. There have been cases where only victims were transferred to us without the suspects and in some cases, the information one gets is that the suspects were also arrested but released. This does not only anger the rescued victims whom the suspects may have defrauded in one way or the other, it does not help our operations neither does it help the Criminal Justice system in Nigeria. In this situation, we end up spending our very lean resources on the victims without a case to pursue. I plead that the Service helps us to ensure that suspect accompany rescued victims each time a transfer of cases is being made.
On operations at the international Airport when repatriated Nigerians are returning and the need to improve on the reception, the NAPTIP boss said ‘’these are people who have travelled for long hours and happy that they have stepped into their father land but the reception they get leaves much to be desired and what follows is another unforgettable nightmare.
“I will suggest that we improve on such receptions and make it more relaxing for them as some of them are victims and the reception the get here affects our rating in the international community. We should have more officers and desks involved in such operations so that the profiling could be faster without much stress on the officers on duty and the returnees’’.
In his response, the Comptroller-General of the NIS, Mr. Muhammad Babandede who commended the NAPTIP boss for the strategic actions taken to re-invigorate the operations of the Agency, described NAPTIP as a vital partner to the NIS, adding that the two organisations must work together to raise the stake in the fight against human trafficking and smuggling of migrants in Nigeria.
He pointed out that the era of rivalry amongst Agencies of government for the purpose of gaining popularity was over, adding that there was the need to work together and promote better service delivery in the country.
While assuring the Agency of prompt intelligence sharing and joint coordinated operations with the NIS especially in the area of rescue of victims and arrest of suspects, Babandede promised to avail the Agency of vital information on any suspected trafficker as contained in the NIS information data.
He also promised to halt further parade of victims of human trafficking before the media by NIS Commands in order to protect the dignity of the victims and in line with international statutes.