The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has assured the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, of its continued support in dealing with the task of curtailing the vices of human trafficking in the Niger Delta region.
The NDDC Managing Director, Mr Nsima Ekere, gave the assurance when the Director General of NAPTIP, Barr. Julie Okah-Donli, paid him a courtesy visit at the Commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt.
Ekere, who received the NAPTIP team in the company of NDDC Executive Director Projects, Engr. Samuel Adjogbe, said that the challenge of trafficking in persons, especially underage girls, was a big dent on the society, describing the abuse of minors as reprehensible.
The NDDC boss pledged that the Commission would step up its engagements with NAPTIP in the areas of skill acquisition and empowerment programmes. He urged the agency to relate more closely with the NDDC to be able to key into the programmes and activities of the Commission that would be beneficial to it.
He said: “Taking care of our youths, particularly our girls, is a shared responsibility. We will engage and collaborate more with NAPTIP and support its efforts to keep our girls and young ones safe.”
The Director General of NAPTIP, Barr. Okah-Donli, said that the Niger Delta was an endemic region in human trafficking. She said the situation called for concerted efforts from all stakeholders to help check the menace. She, therefore, appealed to the NDDC to assist the agency in the provision of logistics for its operations in the Niger Delta.
Okah-Donli stated that NDDC, being a major interventionist agency, was well placed to provide more assistance to NAPTIP. She lamented that underage girls in the Niger Delta were being exploited in several ways, blaming some expatriate oil workers for the abuse of young girls.
The NAPTIP Director General said that the agency had commenced public enlightenment campaigns to sensitise members of the public to the ills of human trafficking. According to her, lack of useful information from the public remained one of the major challenges of the agency.
She said that NAPTIP was not relenting in the efforts to stem the tide of human trafficking, adding that it was doing its best to be proactive and prompt. She appealed to the NDDC to sponsor the agency in the campaign.
Okah-Donli stated that it had in the last one year secured the conviction of over 329 human traffickers and rescued 2,000 victims. She said that the agency was currently prosecuting over 4,000 cases in court, in its determined efforts to put an end to human trafficking in the country.
The DG called for public support, noting that a new twist had been introduced into human trafficking, with vital organs of victims being harvested and sold outside the country.
She bemoaned the rate at which human beings were being trafficked in the country, stating that poor budgetary allocation was affecting the operations of the agency.
Okah-Donli said: “If you talk of trafficking in Nigeria, it is very huge because we have situations where children are used to beg on the streets. We also have situations of forced child marriages, child labour, prostitution, sexual exploitation and others.”