The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has revealed that there are currently 5,000 Nigerians trafficked into different parts of Mali for prostitution.
In a report, the agency said the victims were lured into Mali with the promise of helping them to Europe. NAPTIP however said that it was putting in place measures that would be presented to government to ensure that all the stranded victims in Mali and other parts of Africa are rescued and brought back to Nigeria.
The agency has also disclosed that it has commenced investigations into the trafficking of 37 female Nigerians who were on Monday deported to Nigeria by the Malian authorities. Four female suspects were also deported with the victims.
NAPTIP’s Acting Director-General, Mr Abdulrazak Dangiri has ordered that the investigation on the 37 trafficked girls be thorough as sloppiness would not be tolerated.
Dangiri said the four suspects are in NAPTIP custody and making useful statements while the victims are being counseled by NAPTIP Counselors.
The NAPTIP boss further thanked all those who played one role or the other in achieving the women’s successful return, especially the Federal Government for its quick intervention through the Defence Headquarters.
Recall that the Malian Police had on Thursday 16th February, 2017, rescued the Nigerian girls, aged 15 to 32 years, being used as sex slaves in Koflatie – an area in Northern Mali reportedly notorious for prostitution. Five female suspects- four Nigerians and a Ghanaian were also arrested in the course of the raid.
According to reports, investigation into the matter commenced before the deportation as investigators from the Agency who are also members of the Joint Border Task Force (JBTF) had as soon as the Malian authorities reached the agency through the National Crime Agency of the United Kingdom gone to Mali to profile, debrief and interview the victims and suspects preparatory to their return.
The invitation of the NAPTIP-JBTF team was necessitated by the need to bring to bear the Nigerian experience on handling human trafficking cases; in identifying and to substantiate points to prove acts of human trafficking in the Malian case.
The repatriation of the Nigerians was greatly assisted by the Defence Headquarters which tasked the Nigerian Air Force to help in bringing back the girls who were already posing a security risk to Mali.
A statement from NAPTIP last month disclosed that the agency had so far secured 316 convictions against human traffickers in Nigeria.
The agency also said that the assets of some of the convicted traffickers have been forfeited to the Victims’ Trust Fund. The trust fund was already being used in rehabilitating victims as well as investigations.
The agency revealed that it had about 145 pending cases, and listed some of the challenges facing it as; insufficient funds, clandestine nature of the crime, inter-agency rivalry, porous borders, relationship ties, tender age of victims, lack of training for investigators and prosecutors, unwillingness of victims to testify in court, oath taking in shrines and delay in the criminal justice system.