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Libya returnees: NAPTIP renews cooperation with Edo Govt

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Returnees queue to be attended to by state officials after alighting from chartered aircraft that brought home 150 migrants from Libya at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos, on December 5, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI

The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has pledged a more robust cooperation with the Edo Government to ensure the success of the on-going evacuation and reintegration of Libya returnees.

The agency renewed its support in a statement signed by the Head, Press and Public Relations of NAPTIP, Mr Josiah Emerole, on Wednesday in Abuja.

It described allegations that the agency was not cooperating with Edo government as untrue.
“Our attention has been drawn to reports quoting the Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, accusing the agency of not cooperating with his government in the fight against human trafficking, especially with the on-going evacuation and reintegration of returnees from Libya.

“The reports also quoted the governor as accusing the agency of not properly guiding the Federal Government on packages for evacuated victims from Libya.

“And alluding to the fact that the batches evacuated by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) were given one hundred Euros each.
“It is important to state clearly that the allegations by the Edo State Government are far from the truth,” the statement read in part.

It stated that NAPTIP was an agency established in pursuant to the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act 2003, and it has never in any way shown lack of cooperation to the Government and good people of Edo in the fight against human trafficking.

The agency said it held the state and her people in very high esteem and it was for that reason that the first and the biggest Zonal Command of NAPTIP after the Lagos Command was established in Benin City early in 2004.

According to it, the command which handles only Edo and Delta states remained the busiest and most vibrant command in the country.

The statement noted that the present evacuation of Nigerians from Libya was not NAPTIP’s project but that of the Federal Government as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) was the coordinating agency for the exercise and NAPTIP was only a member of the federal government’s mission to Libya.
“And the agency has its personnel who are working with other sister agencies in Port Harcourt to assist the returnees on arrival through profiling and psycho-social assistance especially for victims of human trafficking among them.

“The business of NAPTIP so far has been to identify the victims and suspects of human trafficking and take them to NAPTIPs facilities in Benin, Uyo and Lagos for further assistance.
“The agency does not have access to funds for this project since NEMA is the coordinating agency for the project,’’ it said.

On the package for the returnees, it also explained that the 100 Euros was given directly to the returnees whom the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) brought back from Libya through Lagos.

The agency said that the project was part of their Voluntary Returns programme as promised before the returnees embarked on the journey home, adding that NAPTIP has nothing to do with that package.

It stated that NAPTIP had advised states not to take their citizens away immediately upon arrival from Libya, without adequate psycho-social counselling and care.
The statement added that such victims had gone through immense trauma and needed to be gently reintegrated into the society after proper counselling.

It said that doing otherwise would amount to a disaster waiting to happen, as some had committed some crimes in Libya, some had health challenges that should be checked, while some were very demoralised and in dire need of a morale booster.

NAPTIP said that failure to provide this assistance by the states defeated the essence of the federal government’s timely and capital-intensive intervention.
It therefore urged the Edo government to work harmoniously with the agency, noting that lack of cooperation between the state government and NAPTIP can affect the victims.
The agency is federal government’s focal agency on human trafficking.


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