BY AGNES NWORIE, ABAKALIKI
The National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons has warned against human trafficking and hiring of underage children as house helps in Ebonyi State.
The Director-General of the NAPTIP, Fatima Waziri-Azi, in an exclusive interview with The Point in Abakaliki, recently, said that the agency would leave no stone unturned in fighting trafficking in persons in the state in the New Year.
Waziri-Azi also decried the attitude of hiring underage persons as housemaids, saying that the agency would arrest and prosecute those found wanting.
She said that “It is a crime to employ a child less than 18 years to do any work that is exploitative, injurious or hazardous to the development of the child.”
The Director General disclosed that to enable the agency to fight against trafficking in person in Nigeria, “The strategic priority is enhanced conviction of high-profile traffickers and increased prosecution of cases of sexual and gender-based violence.
“The second strategic priority is enhancing the prevention of trafficking in persons through increased and consistent awareness creation and sensitization deliberately designed to educate people about human trafficking, violence and what drives it.
“Another is a sustainable and evidence-based rehabilitation, reintegration and empowerment programme for survivors of human trafficking. The fourth strategic focus shall be an increased visibility of the agency and its partners. This shall involve deepening engagement with the media, and the amplification of our reporting channels.”
Waziri-Azi represented by the Head of the Ebonyi State Liaison Officer, Berta Offor, said, “NAPTIP is committed to preventing all forms of human degradation and exploitation through the coordinated use of the nation’s crime prevention and law enforcement resources to stamp out human trafficking and to liberate a uplift the vulnerable, especially women and children from dehumanizing/exploitative employment and usage to ensure their rehabilitation and effective reintegration into society.”
She identified lack of stand-alone office accommodation, safe shelter home for survivors for proper rehabilitation, non -availability of utility vehicles as part of the challenges hindering the performance of their duties in the state.
The agency, therefore, appealed to the state government, corporate bodies, philanthropists, NGOs and spirited individuals to assist the new liaison office to acquire the basic necessities to start work in the state as a full-fledged command.
She warned members of the public against procurement and recruitment of persons with a view to harvesting their organs, stressing that seven-year-jail term and payment of N5million fine await defaulters.
Waziri-Azi warned house wives that employment of children less than 12 years of age as domestic help would attract between six months and seven years imprisonment.
“It is a crime to employ a child less than 12 years as a domestic worker. It is a crime to employ a child less than 18 years to do any work that is exploitative, injurious or hazardous to the development of the child. It is a crime to deal with any person as slave. It is a crime to remove, buy or sell human organs. It is a crime to organise foreign travels which promote prostitution.
“The above crimes attract between six months and seven years imprisonment and various fines. Beware, many have been jailed; don’t join them. The agency is barely three months in Ebonyi State, but we are poised to end trafficking in persons.
“Traffickers, Ebonyi State is no longer safe for you. Repent or be made to face the full weight of law,” she warned.