By Aderogba George
Mrs Titi Atiku, wife of the former Vice President, has urged stakeholders leading the charge against human trafficking and smuggling of migrants to fortify themselves for the challenges ahead.
Atiku delivered this call during the closing session of a three-day retreat organised by the West Africa Coalition Against Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants (WACTIPSOM) in Abuja.
WACTIPSOM, a consortium of civil society organisations across West Africa, has been actively combating the pervasive issues of human trafficking and migrant smuggling.
The retreat, supported by the International Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies (FIIAPP), under the banner of Action Against Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants (A-TIPSOM), is a project funded by the European Union.
As the founder of the Women Trafficking and Child Labour Eradication Foundation (WOTCLEF), Atiku implored stakeholders to take the fight against human trafficking seriously within their respective domains.
She emphasised the importance of translating the contents of the signed documents by representatives from various countries into concrete actions to combat the menace of trafficking and smuggling across borders.
“This fight against human trafficking and smuggling of migrants must be taken seriously. Your response from this retreat should be evident in practical actions if we aim to eradicate trafficking and smuggling,” Atiku emphasised.
Acknowledging the grim reality faced by migrants, particularly children, in the Mediterranean sea, Atiku urged stakeholders to recognize the urgency of the situation.
She reminded them of the countless lives lost at sea despite warnings, highlighting the need for a collective effort to address the ongoing crisis.
Atiku also reflected on the establishment of WOTCLEF 25 years ago, attributing its consistent activities to the birth of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and the Network of Civil Society Organisations Against Child Trafficking, Abuse, and Labour (NACTAL).
The A-TIPSOM Team Leader, Mr Federico Millan, expressed satisfaction that the retreat finally took place despite initial challenges. He thanked the EU for its support, emphasizing the collaboration with NACTAL and other stakeholders in the fight against trafficking.
Ron Hendrix, the Programme Officer for Migration, Organised Crime, and Drug at the EU delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, emphasised the need for stakeholders to unite against trafficking and smuggling.
He pledged the EU’s ongoing support, highlighting the collaborative efforts required to combat these issues effectively.
NACTAL’s President, Abdulganiyu Abubakar, disclosed that all stakeholders had pledged their commitment to work towards combating human trafficking.
He expressed hope for positive changes in the fight, citing improved identification, protection, and reintegration of trafficking victims since the launch of WACTIPSOM in November 2021.
He noted increased prosecutions and partnerships, both locally and internationally, as positive indicators in the ongoing battle against trafficking and smuggling. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Kevin Okunzuwa/Idris Abdulrahman