The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons or NAPTIP says it has rescued 93 victims of human trafficking between 2021, when its operations started in Anambra State and now.
NAPTIP’s Commander in the state, Ibadin Judith-Chukwu, disclosed this while fielding questions on this year’s International Day against Human Trafficking, an event set aside annually to create awareness about the crime and celebrate the counteractions made to dismantle it.
She said out of the 93 victims, 10 of them were males, while 83 were females. “We rescued 17 victims in 2021 when we came to Anambra. A total of 69 were rescued in 2022, while seven victims have so far been rescued this year,” she said, adding that “we have received a lot of cases, most of which are external trafficking. The victims are still abroad. We have been able to bring back seven victims this year from Burkina Fasso, Ghans and Mali.”
Judith-chukwu added that “We are working to bring others back. Internally, we have been able to rescue 4-year and 15-year-old children.”
She explained that the state command had also arrested over 120 human trafficking suspects within the period under review. “In 2021, we arrested 31 suspects (16 males and 15 females) from Anambra, Edo and Ebonyi states. In 2022, we arrested 44 male suspects and 36 female suspects, giving us a total of 80 suspects from Anambra, Benue, Imo, Rivers, Ebonyi and Akwa Ibom States.”
She said, “This year, we have arrested 16 suspects (11 males and five females). They are from Akwa Ibom, Niger and Anambra states.”
The commander appealed to society to always rate the interest of the victims above other considerations, which is in tandem with the theme of this year’s commemoration, “Reach every victim of human trafficking. Leave no one behind.”
“Our greatest concern as NAPTIP is to ensure that the victims overcome all the negative realities associated with being trafficked. They suffer exploitation and other ill-treatment in the hands of the traffickers.”
The commander revealed that “human trafficking is endemic in Anambra state. The number keeps increasing despite what we are doing in terms of sensitisation. The traffickers are stubborn because of the huge money they are making in it. They don’t want to stop, but we are going to stop them.”
Speaking during the road walk at motor parks and markets, two members of the Anambra State Task Force on Human Trafficking encouraged the people to watch out for suspicious movements and break the cycle of silence which had hitherto served the interest of the criminals.
“Some of those children who had been messed up by traffickers have psychological problems. When you see any of them, please call us. These are our children. They took them away from the village with a promise to take care of them,” Yohanna Rachel said, while Hope Okoye urged residents to be watchful against the antics of the traffickers.
“Speak out every time you notice suspicious movements around your parks. Many children have been trafficked from your park here. So, shine your eyes. Our children, old and teenage, are being trafficked for sexual exploitation, hard labour, organ harvesting and the rest of them. Give us information. Report to NAPTIP or the Ministry of Women Affairs.”
NAPTIP, in collaboration with the State Task Force on Human Trafficking, organised the road walk to sensitise the populace on the problem of human trafficking, which it noted is increasingly assuming a more disturbing dimension in the area.