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Lead review of anti-human trafficking strategies in Nigeria- JIFORM tells NAPTIP

Ajibola JIFORM President

JIFORM President Ajibola

The Journalists International Forum For Migration (JIFORM) has called on the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP) to lead a review of anti-human trafficking strategies in Nigeria

JIFORM, headquartered in Lagos with over 200 journalists focusing on migration across the continents  unequivocally asked that human traffickers and their agents soiling the image of the nation must be prosecuted.

After its initial outcry, JIFORM said while it appreciated the speedy rescue of the 30 stranded Nigerian ladies trafficked to Lebanon enlisted to join another 120 through the efforts of the Nigerian foreign mission fast tracked by the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), the embassy of Nigeria in Lebanon and the tacit support of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), however posited that”it is not yet Uhuru on war against human trafficking in Nigeria.”

Ajibola Abayomi, the President of JIFORM in a statement issued on Wednesday said although the NAPTIP has put up superlative performance by securing close to 400 convictions and thousands of arrests in the last 14 years of its establishment,  noted that given the overwhelming reports concerning the numbers of trafficked Nigerians abroad, a change of strategy, review of structure and improved inter-agencies collaboration to achieving better results are now expedient.

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“Recently the NAPTIP confirmed one of our findings that there are over 5,000 Nigerian ladies trafficked to Lebanon alone, in Saudi Arabia they are over 2000, Dubai and Oman, we have over 4, 000 while at our backyard in Africa with series of undocumented migrants there are over 20,000 each in Mali and Libya Nigerian ladies that had been respectively trafficked, just to mention a few.

“While we are not heaping all the blames on NAPTIP, it is obvious that its internal mechanisms geared towards preventive measures and accelerated rescue operations must be strengthened. As the rescued ladies would be handed over to NAPTIP after arrival in Nigeria, our worries are what become of them in terms of sincere medical assistance and reintegration on the part of the authorities in Nigeria.

The JIFORM President noted that: “Foreign missions in Nigeria like the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the European Union (EU) are rendering support they can. In July, the IOM facilitated the return of 109 Nigerian migrants from Mali with the support of the DFID and the EU through its Regional Direct Assistance Fund. But for how long will they shoulder our responsibility as a nation?

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“We are equally bothered that a recent assessment by IOM revealed that 96 per cent of 105 Nigerian returnees consulted in Edo and Delta states were worse-off financially while the United Nation’s agency had also between April and July 2020, ensured that 839 returnees across various projects have received reintegration counseling including socio-economic assistance from in Nigeria.

“It is on record that since 2017, 629 Nigerians, mostly women between the ages of 18 and 25, have returned voluntarily from Mali with support from DFID and the EU through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant protection and reintegration, therefore, the Nigerian government must copy this good examples while the need to enlarge empowerment for her citizens to stem irregular migration is now a reality.”

Ajibola said the war against human trafficking denting the nation’s image must be fought from all fonts with required zeal.

To this end, JIFORM recommends that the Federal Government through the executive arm of government approve recruitment of more hands to strengthen NAPTIP, amend relevant laws to allow the agency has its own official uniform and arm unit with the required funding.

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NAPTIP needs to be represented at every 774 local governments in Nigeria, they must as a matter of urgent importance be included in the states security structure, form a synergy with the NIS at the airport, land and sea borders to perform specific oversight functions because the immigration officers cannot stop any valid visa holder from travelling outside the country.

 

 

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Human trafficking: PJI  urges proper trauma management for returnees

The Pathfinder Justice Initiative (PJI), a Non-Governmental Organisation, has called for proper trauma care for migrant returnees to prevent them from becoming vulnerable to subsequent trafficking.

Evon Benson-Idahosa, the Executive Director, PJI, made the call at a Rehabilitation Workshop for Providers Serving Survivors of Human Trafficking held in Benin on Thursday.

The workshop was organised by PJI and funded by INSighT- Building Capacity to deal with human trafficking and transit routes to Nigeria, Italy and Sweden.

Benson-Idahosa said that a majority of returnee-migrants usually undergo different traumatic situations and needed to be properly rehabilitated before being integrated back into the society. She noted that if the migrant returnees were not properly rehabilitated, they would not be able to put into good use any form of skills acquisition or empowerment received.

“Providers serving survivors should know how to handle traumatised victims because many of them, especially females, have been raped and have gone through horrible experiences during their trafficking journey.

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“The providers should know that there are best practices in terms of handling trafficked victims; they need to use a survivor centred approach to prioritise the needs of the victims,” she said.

She called on the government at all levels to partner more with NGOs on providing best traumatic care for returned migrants in the country.

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How Nigerian-American police officer burst human trafficking syndicate in US

A retried Nigerian American Police officer, Samuel Balogun  narrated how he  burst a human trafficking syndicate that specialized in using minors for prostitution.

“My biggest accomplishment was bursting a human trafficking crime,” Balogun said.

Giving details of how he executed the task,  the dark skinned retired police officer said: “ There was a guy that was using minors for prostitution on the internet.  I have an accent and when I speak people know I am an African. So, I had to go undercover and had to call the guy on the internet.  I said ‘ hey! what is going on, I am in town. I am a truck driver and I want some girls.’ I asked  how old? He said the younger they are, the more money. I said about 15 to 16 years. He said ok.  I asked  how many he could bring and he replied two. He said which hotel was I and I gave the name to him. He told me to hang up and  he called back  the hotel. He subsequently called me and asked if I was there and I said yes. He said he would be there in 20 minutes.

“We were waiting for him to come but he was smart too. He dropped the girls down the street and made them walk to the room. The girls asked how much I was ready to pay and wanted to take off their clothes but I said not yet.  In the next room were officers listening to our conversation. When I make a signal, that means it is time for them to come in. but before you make the signal, you have to make sure they have mentioned the price, they have given the reason why they were there, so it doesn’t look like you are entrapping them.  When I made the signal, the officers burst in and arrested everybody including me.

Thereafter, Balogun said  the police  processed the girls and after that, “they said look, you are minors and we know somebody is pushing you to do this. Now we don’t want to arrest you but tell us how to get to the boss.  The girls cooperated and  made as if they were leaving. When the man pulled up to pick them up, and that was how we arrested  him. That stopped a lot of those crimes.”

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Balogun said he was in Nigeria to bring his wealth of experience to bear on the disturbing security situation in the country. “ I am trying to bring back  my experience as a  police officer in the states to Nigeria. When you look at the #endsars period, the performance of the police was something that hurt my feelings. How can we make it better? How can we make the police job something that people will look with respect  and want to join?”

He hinted that his  security firm is involved in training not only police officers but “ I also train private security companies. I am in touch with a lot of private security companies in Nigeria.  There is another concept which Nigeria is embracing right now.

“It is called community policing. In the states it is called neighbourhood policing or community policing. It works in a way that in every street, there would be a police officer that lives in that neighbourhood.   You get to know the people and the people know you. In some apartments, they will give you a discount just for the police officer to be there because they know once a police officer is living there, the police car is outside and the crime level will reduce. People are more likely to talk to that officer because they know him. They are more able to tell him’ hey we know who committed that crime.’  For every crime, you need people to tell you what happened. You can have all the gadgets but if people are not talking, you can’t solve the crime.”

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He further said: “I am training police officers, security companies and executive protection. What my security company is doing is to free the police officers from attachment to chiefs, politicians and all that.  We train civilians to represent those officers so that they can go back to the street and do their normal jobs.  We have what we call executive protection/training. We have people that follow the president.  We can train you on how to be efficient and sometimes using less force, description tactics.”

Further expatiating on what his security firm does, the soft spoken officer said: “What my company is trying to do is to bring people to the table.  We are trying to train companies that there is a better way of security where we can teach you how to defend yourself, how to prepare for any emergency, and how to use less force. I have a guy, a navy seal that worked for the United States of America. You will be amazed about what he can do. He can disarm you in a minute even when you come with AK 47.    I am also bringing Hostage Negotiation, people that can talk to you when ransom has to be paid. In the US, we call it Hostage Negotiation.  They can talk to these people, and know their psyche. It is a full package. When you come  to my firm, you can see the whole spectrum  and choose.”

As a vastly travelled person, Blagun said: “I travel a lot and in all the African nations is where you see officers with AK 47. They said it is more intimidating. Criminals use AK 47 in America too but we still don’t carry it.  Is that the right weapon for the police officers, I leave that question open. “

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On the attitude of the Nigerian authorities his plans, he said: “I have talked to a lot of people in higher positions. In some places I don’t want to mention, I have got good responses.  My firm has done some things with certain private firms and the police. I have dealt with some highly placed security firms. So, this is not my first time here.  We are   looking at having training in Sheraton around July/August this year. It is going to be a big one. I am bringing a retired FBI agent, a navy seal, a retired marine , myself and may be two other officers.

“This is my country, I am proud of it. I am sad sometimes when you look at the security aspect of it.  With my experience, I am trying to make it a better place.  It has always been my passion to come back home. I am retired and don’t really need to work again. My benefits are okay untill I die.  But why die with all this experience when I can pass it to the next person.”

 

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Hundreds of thousands of people leave Britain due to pandemic

 

Hundreds of thousands of people have left Britain as a fallout  of the pandemic on the economy, according to a study released yesterday.

There is an “unprecedented exodus” of workers born outside Britain, researchers at London’s Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence said.

“It seems that much of the burden of job losses during the pandemic has fallen on non-UK workers and has manifested itself in return migration, rather than unemployment,” said the authors.

The study is based on labour market data.

The trend was particularly notable in London, where one in five residents was born abroad.

The capital’s population has fallen by 700,000, the study said, adding that nationwide, the figure could be more than 1.3 million.

If these numbers are accurate, this is the largest decline in Britain’s population since World War II, according to the study.

No evidence suggests that similar numbers of British people who live abroad are returning to Britain.

However, this could be a temporary trend, the researchers said, noting that workers from abroad might return after the pandemic.

The British economy depends on workers from abroad and it is not only threatened by migration due to the pandemic.

Many industries fear the loss of skilled workers due to Britain’s departure from the European Union and stricter migration laws.

A further trend in 2021 is also causing concern, described as a “baby bust” by consultancy PwC, which said many couples were postponing having children due to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

This could lead to the lowest birth rate since 1900, PwC said in early January.

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Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

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