From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The Director General, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Dr Fatima Waziri-Azi, has given marching orders to all zonal and state commanders to commence surveillance operations within their jurisdiction and manhunt of child traffickers including those involved in buying and selling of human beings, ensuring that they are apprehended and made to face the wrath of the law.
NAPTIP spokesperson Stella Nezan, in a statement on Monday, indicated that the NAPTIP Director General specifically directed that all homes where buying and selling of babies (baby factories) are suspected to be going on are detected, shut down and the operators apprehended for prosecution.
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There are indications that the directives were in response to the recent case in Lagos where a dispatch rider was caught with a child in his dispatch box apparently meant to be delivered to someone for whatever reason.
She suggested that collaborations of sister law enforcement agencies within areas of operation be secured for joint actions to stem the tide of child abduction, trafficking and buying and selling of such children.
She said: “We cannot allow this type of evil to continue in our country and before our eyes. The Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act 2015 empowers NAPTIP to deal with all cases of human trafficking including the buying and selling of human beings as well as cruelty to children.
“Who know the intentions of the dispatch rider and those that sent him? Who knows the state of the mother of that baby right now? We have already rescued many of such children over the years, traced the parents and re-united the children with them while prosecuting those involved.
“But we must do more as the crime is not abetting. Everyday, the criminals are devising new strategies, and we must in collaboration with other sister law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders including members of the public so that we can get ahead of this national crisis. That is why we are being paid by tax payers, to protect them by delivering on our mandate “.
Meanwhile, the NAPTIP boss disclosed that in the last one year, the Agency has rescued no fewer than 30 babies from criminal elements, traced the parents and re-united the babies with them while those arrested are facing prosecution in different Courts across the country for child trafficking.
She added: “These criminal elements do not mean well for these children and their parents. What drives them is the money they make from such sales, while the agony of such parents and what becomes of the children do not matter to them. There is currently an entire value chain for the buying and selling of children in Nigeria.”
She called on Nigerians to be vigilant to the happenings within their environment as the criminals involved in the abduction and trafficking of the children are not strangers but people they know.
“We are not encouraging members of the public to take the law into their hands by going after the criminals, but rather, they should share intelligence with relevant agencies,” she advised.
She, however, advised law enforcement agencies to make themselves trustworthy before the people so that members of the public can have the confidence to share information and intelligence with them.
“If the members of the public are not sure that their identities would be protected or bring the criminals before the law, they would not come to you,” she stressed.