Sunday, 28th May 2023

AGA Africa pledges to boost fight against trans-border crimes in Nigeria

By Joseph Onyekwere
24 May 2023   |   5:05 am
The Attorney General Alliance - Africa (AGA Africa), has pledged to enhance the capacity of anti-human trafficking fighters in checking trans-border crimes in Nigeria.

Mr. Austin Emumejakpor (left); Country Coordinator AGA Africa, Ebelechukwu Enedah; John Edozie; International Advisor AGA Africa Programme, Prof. Fatima Waziri-Azi; DG NAPTIP, AIG Christopher Owolabi (second right) and Mrs. Olufemi Olubusola Fatunde at a five-day workshop to strengthen anti-human trafficking efforts of NAPTIP in Keffi.

The Attorney General Alliance – Africa (AGA Africa), has pledged to enhance the capacity of anti-human trafficking fighters in checking trans-border crimes in Nigeria.

The International Advisor of AGA Africa Programme, John Edozie made this declaration during a five-day training of investigators and prosecutors to strengthen the anti-human trafficking efforts of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) in Nasarawa State.

AGA Africa organised the training workshop in collaboration with NAPTIP. Edozie said AGA Africa works with various countries and stakeholders in combating trans-border crimes.

He, therefore, maintained that human trafficking was one of those crimes to deal with, adding that AGA Africa had done training with NAPTIP in the past and that the ongoing training was a continuation of the collaboration.

“What we are doing is to work closely with organisations like NAPTIP on human trafficking. Essentially, we try to deal with the three Ps: We pick the victims, prosecute the criminals and prevent human trafficking.

“We do this not only with NAPTIP alone, and not just in Nigeria alone. We do work in Kenya, South Africa, Zambia and Ghana. AGA Africa deals with trans-border crimes. Human trafficking is one of those crimes. We provide experts such as prosecutors, police officers and judges from places like America and Europe,” he said.

In addition, Edozie stated that AGA Africa also provides experts like prosecutors from other African countries who would come to Nigeria and give international perspective to a regional issue.

He continued: “We also work with Nigeria prosecutors and people from NAPTIP to build capacity that will help them learn more about the challenge of human trafficking, and put them in a place where they can actually prosecute people who are involved in these things.

“In addition, using our social media hashtag on Facebook, Instagram and twitter, we try to build awareness and enlighten the people about human trafficking, scams involving plots to leave Nigeria, only to find out that they have been trafficked to other countries for sex exploitation.”

On her part, the Director General of NAPTIP, Prof. Fatima Waziri-Azi, said the Agency did a gap analysis last year and one of the outcomes was the need to strengthen its investigation and prosecution departments.

The NAPTIP DG, therefore, said one of the reasons for the training was to see a cohesive and collaborative investigation and prosecution departments that would ensure that perpetrators are kept behind bars.

She said: “We are hoping to have more convictions, which will also translate in sending a strong message across the country. When you have a strengthened investigation and prosecution departments, you can be sure of convictions.

“In addition to our prosecutorial target, we also do a lot of awareness creation. Our awareness creation focuses on rural areas and urban communities. Since last year, we have been establishing Trafficking of Persons and Violence against Persons Vanguard in secondary schools.”

She, however, stated that the agency has been able to do that in 84, out of the 110 Federal Government’s Unity Schools across Nigeria. Waziri-Azi added that having gotten approvals from the Service Chiefs last year, the agency was also planning to expand to military secondary schools.

She explained that the Agency undertook community engagements last year, which was a collaboration between it and the Oba of Benin Palace, where it set up the Oba of Benin Task Force on Trafficking of Persons.

“We identified three endemic Local Government Areas in Edo State and four communities where we went on round sensitisation. In terms of online exploitation, we have seen a drastic shift from offline exploitation to online exploitation. We noticed this shift during the COVID-19 period.

“In terms of stemming the tide online, we have established a cyber security response team for NAPTIP. This response team is responsible for handling all cases of online sexual exploitation, child sexual abuse and material assaults.”

For the Country Coordinator of the AGA Africa, Ebelechukwu Enedah, the workshop was all about capacity building of prosecutors and investigators of human trafficking with a view to strengthen the efforts at curbing human trafficking and stamping it out entirely.

According to her, the participants are those that actually investigate the crime and take it to court. She, however, suggested that NAPTIP needs to involve more organisations like the schools, the churches and parents, since it cannot do the fight alone.

“They actually need to take the fight back to the general public,” she quipped. Enedah maintained that if those agencies were not involved, there was so much the government could do.

“But if the public and the communities are involved in this fight, you will see that it will be more of a collaboration. But if the awareness is not there about the ills of what actually constitutes trafficking, people will not know and the vice will still continue,” she warned.