The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has rescued 10 suspected trafficked victims along the famous Babban Mutum Axis in Katsina State.
It was gathered that the victims comprise an 11-month-old baby girl, eight women and a man are from Delta, Edo, Lagos, Enugu and Ekiti States.
They were said to have been misled by their traffickers whose business is to ferry persons across the border through illegal routes for their selfish gains.
Briefing journalists on Friday at the command headquarters in Katsina, the NIS Commander, Comptroller Abdurrazaq Mu’azu said that none of the victims was in possession of any travel document with no means of livelihood.
He noted that the victims were rescued in their attempt to cross the border to the Niger Republic en-route Libya through one of the Nigerian illegal routes.
“I will like to assure the general public that Katsina State will no longer be used as a transit route for trans-border Crimes,” he said.
“As you can see before you, these ten suspected victims of Human Trafficking will now be handed over to NAPTIP Liaison Office, Katsina for further investigation, counselling, training, rehabilitation and prosecution as the case may be.”
The NIS Commander also advised human traffickers, migrant smugglers and their collaborators to have a change of mind and stop the illegal business, adding that the Service has provided a conducive atmosphere in terms of welfare and training to counter the challenges.
He also announced that this brings a total of 33 victims of human trafficking rescued and four suspected traffickers arrested by the command from March 19 to date.
This comes about two months after two suspects were nabbed in connection with human trafficking by operatives of the Nigeria Immigration Service in Katsina State.
The suspects identified as Fatima Abdullahi, and Amadu Abdullahi, both from Lagos State were arrested on March 16th following an intelligence report received by the command.
In the process of arresting the suspects at Charanchi Patrol Base, 18 victims have been rescued.
The United States has funded a programme for Nigerian judicial officers, prosecutors, and law enforcement officials to boost efforts to tackle human trafficking in the country.
According to a statement issued on Wednesday by the spokesman of the US Consulate, Temitayo Famutimi, the retreat held in Lagos focused on improving the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking cases.
It is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and implemented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
“The retreat provided an opportunity for members of the judiciary and prosecutors at the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, to discuss the admissibility of electronic evidence in human trafficking cases under Nigerian law,” the statement partly read.
Participants engaged in a robust dialogue on witness management and protection and shared best practices and insights on broad areas of prosecuting and adjudicating human trafficking cases under the nation’s judicial system.
Speaking during the event, the United States Consul General, Claire Pierangelo, said that the retreat was a key component of a U.S.-funded rule of law project introduced in 2018 titled, “Strengthen the Capacities of State and Non-State Institutions to Assist, Support and Protect Victims of Trafficking (VoT) in Nigeria.”
“We are proud of our continued partnership with the Government of Nigeria with its continued efforts to build upon its successes in ensuring trafficking of persons and smuggling of migrant cases are prosecuted effectively and fairly and those convicted receive the appropriate penalties,” Pierangelo was quoted as saying.
The Consular General explained that under the project, the U.S. government in partnership with the UNODC Nigeria has been providing support to the Government of Nigeria, through the Federal Ministry of Justice, NAPTIP and Nigeria Immigration Service, as well as civil society groups in different thematic areas of trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants.
According to her, the initiative has recorded some remarkable achievements such as the establishment of a judiciary resource center at NAPTIP headquarters in Abuja that provides officers access to relevant tools and resources when investigating and prosecuting trafficking in persons cases.
Other key accomplishments include support for the establishment of state task forces against human trafficking across the country and the development of a series of awareness materials on trafficking in persons produced for travel agents, airport personnel, flight crews, and passengers.
Police authorities in Ogun State have apprehended a 35-year-old suspected human trafficking kingpin, Comfort Innocent over the abduction and trafficking of two under-aged girls.
The police public relations officer, Abimbola Oyeyemi told Channels Television that the arrest of the suspect followed a report by one Oluwaseun Aduratola and one Sakirat Fasasi both residents of Siun town in Obafemi Owode Local Government Area of the state who reported that the suspect abducted their daughters namely Blessing Aduratola 15 and Hasisat Fasasi 16.
They further explained that the suspect who is a notorious human trafficker is about taking the two girls to Libya where they will be forced into prostitution.
The police spokesperson added that following this, the Divisional Police Officer, Owode Egba division Mathew Ediae swung into action with his detectives, and through intelligence-driven investigation, they succeeded in arresting the suspect.
He said that on interrogation, the suspect confessed been a human trafficker and that she has been into the business for a long time.
“She confessed further that her husband is based in Italy while she stays in Nigeria recruiting young girls and sending them to her husband in Italy en route Libya where they will be used as prostitutes.
“Concerning the two girls she recently abducted, she confessed that the two of them had been taken to Kaduna State from where they will be transported to Libya,” the police spokesperson explained.
The two victims according to him have been rescued from Kaduna State by the police.
While noting that the State Police Command has commenced an investigation into the incident with a view to arresting the traffickers, Isah also confirmed the arrest of one Abdullahi Ibrahim.
The police authorities alleged that the 35-year-old Ibrahim, a native of Malabo village, Safana LGA of the state, is a notorious bandit terrorizing Safana and Batsari areas of Katsina.
“In the course of the investigation, one AK47 rifle and seven (7) rustled cows were recovered in his possession. The suspect is assisting the police in our investigation. An investigation is ongoing.
“On 15/12/2020 at about 17:30hrs, based on credible intelligence, the Command succeeded in raiding a criminal hideout at Rugoji Yartalata village, Kafur LGA and recovered one Pump action rifle, eight (8) cartridges, one fabricated revolver pistol, and some items suspected to be used in making Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). The investigation is ongoing with a view to arresting the criminals,” the statement partly read.
“On July 25th 2020 at about 10:00hrs, one Shamsiyya Sani, aged 25 years of Dandagoro quarters, Katsina was delivered of a baby girl at Okomos Clinic, Kofar Kaura, Katsina.
“She later abandoned the child at the hospital with a handwritten note stating that she was born out of wedlock hence the abandonment.
“Nemesis caught up with them when they were arrested on their way from the hospital to their houses with the child through the help of a Keke Napep rider who suspected them of stealing of the child. An investigation is ongoing,” he said.
About 5,000 Nigerians are stranded in Lebanon, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) confirmed to Channels Television on Saturday.
The agency’s Director-General, Julie Okah-Donli said this while confirming a viral video of stranded Nigerian ladies in Lebanon calling out to the government and eminent Nigerians to help evacuate them from the Middle-East country.
Lebanon is mired in its worst economic crisis in decades, with the downturn sparking soaring inflation and plunging almost half the country’s population into poverty.
However many Nigerians are being trafficked into the country with the promise of good, well-paid jobs.
“About 150 of them have been captured, including the girls in the video, for evacuation,” Okah-Donli said.
But the cost of chartering a flight amid coronavirus-induced lock-downs across the world “is not cheap,” the NAPTIP chief added.
“When these ones are airlifted, another batch will cry for help,” she said. “The Federal Government can not fund this alone.”
Okah-Donli said she will meet with the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Sadiya Umar Farouq on Monday and work with State Governments to help facilitate the evacuation of the ladies.
Operatives of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) at Seme Border Control Post have apprehended three suspected human traffickers and three victims en route to Ghana.
The Service Public Relations Officer, Sunday James, disclosed this in a statement forwarded to Channels Television on Tuesday.
According to him, the Comptroller of NIS in charge of the Seme Control Post, Olushola Ajisafe, confirmed the status of the victims as being trafficked after a thorough investigation.
James noted that Olushola, who was the former Comptroller in Katsina, had during his duty tour arrested several human traffickers and their victims in the state.
“The victims were deceitfully persuaded to embark on the trip for a job, but on being interrogated they were discovered to be victims of trafficking for the purpose of prostitution.
“The human trafficking illicit business has been on the increase under the various guise, but they have always been discovered by the officials through timely intelligence and operational synergy between officers along the national borders and airports leading to the arrests,” the statement said.
The Comptroller General of NIS, Muhammad Babandede, therefore, cautioned parents to keep eyes on their children, especially teenagers.
This group of people, according to him, are prone to fall victim to the deceitful acts and ways that make them believe the tricks of traffickers who may be close family members, friends and even sources on the internet connecting them to such criminal elements.
Babandede also advised parents to embark on proper guidance and counselling to prevent their children from becoming victims of trafficking.
The NIS concluded that the “shady journey was organised by agents aimed at exploiting their innocence and ignorance.”
“Considering that the Nine(9) girls had no credible mission for embarking on the failed journey they were refused departure to save their lives and dignity,” the NIS said and called on parents to “be wary of juicy offers by family members and non-family members to take their children abroad.”
The NIS also noted that its operatives at the country’s entry and exit points will never “permit them departure, and if they so appear in an attempt to beat security they will continue to be arrested in our stepped-up clearance operation that is yielding positive results in the various arrests made around the borders of the country by NIS.”
The Kano State Police Command have uncovered an illegal orphanage home suspected to be involved in child trafficking and rescued 27 children alleged to have been kidnapped or born for trafficking from the home known as Du Merci orphanage.
The command’s Public Relations Officer, DSP Abdullahi Haruna confirmed to Channels Television that a self-acclaim professor, Solomon Tafa who operates the home has been arrested.
“We were able to rescue nine children here, after the arrest; he was not able to present any document that shows how these children are being sourced.”
DSP Haruna also revealed that the suspect, Tafa, works alongside a hospital that helps him take care of the pregnant women before and after delivery.
“He procures pregnant women, gives them all the necessary ante-natal attention and care. After delivery, he then hands over the newly born babies to the owner of the orphanage home.”
The suspect, Mr. Tafa claimed that his orphanage home is duly registered and the authorities in Kano state are aware of its existence since 1996 when they started operation.
“We are registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) with 10 boards of trustees that are the Directors.
“We have been running the home since 1992, but officially opened in 1996. I’m registered with Women affairs and social development and the children are from many sources,” he claimed.
Meanwhile, Channels Television, in a bid to ascertain the suspects claim, was informed by the Commissioner for Women Affairs and social development, Zahra’u Umar-Muhammad that the suspect was yet to register with the Ministry and there is no record showing the existence of any Du Merci children home in the state.
The police said an investigation is ongoing and the children are now in the custody of the Kano state Children’s home, while the alleged baby-making factory remains under lock and key.
The police also seized vehicles, cash, mobile phones and computers in the course of the operation.
The minors were aged between 11 and 16, with the youngest rescued at the land border between Nigeria and Benin Republic.
In his reaction, INTERPOL Secretary General, Jürgen Stock, described human trafficking as a transnational crime from which the vulnerable, especially children, simply cannot walk away.
“This operation underlines the need for cross-border collaboration between law enforcement and all stakeholders to ensure that together we can enhance our prevention, protection and prosecution efforts,” the INTERPOL chief stated.
During the operation, the police found a boy who had been forced to carry clandestinely between the two countries heavy goods, including bags of rice weighing up to 40 kg.
According to INTERPOL, all the victims originated from Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria and Togo.
It explained that the victims were recruited and trafficked by means of deception and coercion, after which they were held in bondage in various labour intensive activities.
The organisation added that before regaining freedom, many of the minors were moved around as ‘merchandise’ themselves, across the border.
The victims were also forced to work in markets all day, peddling goods, fetching water, cooking, and carrying heavy loads.
In other cases, some were made to work as housemaids and others were victims of sexual exploitation.
INTERPOL said most of the minors endured beatings and psychological abuse, as well as death threats and warnings that they would never see their parents again.
It, however, highlighted some of the steps taken to ensure the rescued victims receive the necessary care following their rescue.
These include social services while some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) undertook post-operation interviews and provided support services to the victims.
In Nigeria, the organisation revealed that the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) took charge of the minors.
The Comptroller of the Nigeria Immigration Service at Seme border region, Do Asogwa, called for a collective effort to tackle the menace of trafficking.
He said, “We have to cooperate with one another to combat the crime networks behind the trafficking and smuggling of human beings.
“These crimes can only be tackled collectively and through interagency cooperation.”
In Benin Republic, some of the minors were transferred to shelters, returned to their parents, while others were taken into care by national social affairs authorities and NGOs.
The Police Divisional Commissioner of the country’s Central Bureau for the Protection of Minors and Families and the Prevention of Human Trafficking (OCPM), Hounde Seidou, said: “Nobody belongs in the markets or on the streets as slave labourers.
He added, “As law enforcement officers, it is our duty to combat human trafficking, especially when children are involved.”
INTERPOL said building a sustainable law enforcement capacity to investigate and handle cases of human trafficking and migrant smuggling dominated its strategy on vulnerable communities.
To this end, it explained that ‘Operation Epervier II’ was preceded in Benin Republic and Nigeria by specialised training exercises to help officers enhance their investigative techniques along with victim and offender interview skills.
The organisation said its secure communications system I-24/7 was also deployed to operational hotspots, providing police with real-time access to criminal global databases containing millions of records, including on stolen and lost travel documents and biometrics.
It noted that the G7 Interior Ministers had met in Paris, France earlier in April and called for increased cooperation with INTERPOL against crimes such as human trafficking.
It added that the operation, funded by the INTERPOL Foundation for a Safer World, was undertaken under the framework of the INTERPOL Global Task Force on Human Trafficking.
The Governor Of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki, has inaugurated the state Anti-Human Trafficking task force that he believes would proffer a new set of home-grown solutions to the age-long social problem.
Speaking during the ceremony at the government house in Benin City the state capital, Governor Obaseki said a situation where the state is fast becoming synonymous with human trafficking is no longer acceptable.
He, therefore, charged the task force to urgently redeem the state’s image saying that the Edo people do not want to be associated with the stigma anymore.
Furthermore, he emphasized the need for the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) as well as other international organsations to join Edo State in the fight against human trafficking.