By Aderogba George
Mrs Titi Atiku, the wife of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, has charged stakeholders anchoring the fight against human trafficking and smuggling of migrants to brace up for the job ahead of them.
Atiku gave the charge in Abuja on Monday at the closing session of a three-day retreat by the West Africa Coalition Against Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants (WACTIPSOM) which began on Saturday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that WACTIPSOM is a group of civil society organisations across West Africa fighting the scourge of human trafficking and smuggling of migrants.
The retreat was with the support of the International Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies (FIIAPP), the promoter of Action Against Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants (A-TIPSOM).
It is a project funded by the European Union.
Atiku, the founder of Women Trafficking and Child Labour Eradication Foundation (WOTCLEF), enjoined the stakeholders to take the fight against human trafficking seriously in their various domain.
She called on the stakeholders to ensure all the content of the document signed by each of representive of the various countries was carried to conquer the menace of human trafficking and smuggling of migrants across board.
“I enjoin you as WACTIPSOM, we have to take the fight against human trafficking and smuggling of migrants seriously.
“I was not here when the retreat started but I know there must be document, constitution to that effect.
“It is business, ensure you do something as a response from this retreat if you want to see that there is no more trafficking and smuggling of migrants.
“Please take this fight as a serious job, be serious about it, NGO is a kindness job I have been doing it but don’t worry.
“Your reward is in heaven, there are countless of children that are dying in the Mediterranean sea even while you are seated here today.
“Even when these children have been told not to go, even when you warn them, some of them still want to go.
“There is gnashing of teeth with these people while they are in the Mediterranean sea, they have gone and seen for themselves,” she said.
Atiku said that the establishment of WOTCLEF 25 years ago and its consistent activities birthed the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and Network of Civil Society Organisations Against Child Trafficking, Abuse and Labour (NACTAL).
A-TIPSOM Team Leader, Mr Federico Millan, expressed happiness that the retreat was finally taking place after the initial odds that militated against the implementation.
He thanked the EU, noting that the retreat would not have been possible without the support of its delegations in Nigeria.
He stated that he would continue to appreciate the smooth working relationship with EU, while also thanking NACTAL’s President, Abdulganiyu Abubakar, for his immense support for the retreat.
Mr Ron Hendrix, Programme Officer for Migration, Organised Crime and Drug, EU and EU delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, urged stakeholders to unite in the fight against trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants.
He pledged the readiness of EU to continue to work with regional organisations like NACTAL, adding that EU could not do it alone without the support of stakeholders and organisations.
Hendrix urged FIIAPP to continue to work with Nigeria to help EU rid Nigeria of the menace of human trafficking and smuggling of migrants.
NACTAL’s president also disclosed that all stakeholders had pledged their commitment to work the talk against human trafficking, adding that the renewed commitment had brought with it hope of seeing changes in the fight.
He said that since the launch of WACTIPSOM on Nov. 17, 2021, there had been improved identification, protection and reintegration of victims of trafficking, and that records from NAPTIP could testify to that.
“If you follow the records of NAPTIP in the last two years, more cases of trafficking have been diligently prosecuted by the agency, a lot of traffickers are currently in jail.
“We have also had more partnerships – both the media, local and international partners in curbing the menace of human trafficking and smuggling of migrants.
“So, I believe with this uniform platform and efforts going forward, we will achieve more, ” he said. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Kevin Okunzuwa/Idris Abdulrahman