NAPTIP, two others secure release of 15 Nigerian girls trafficked to Mali

The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has secured the release of 15 Nigerian girls trafficked to Mali in collaboration with the Network Against Child Trafficking, Abuse, and Labour (NACTAL).

With the help of Action Against Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants in Nigeria, the girls were released, one of whom has a three-year-old boy and two of whom are pregnant (A-TIPSOM).

A-TIPSOM is a European Union-funded project being implemented in Nigeria by the International and Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policy (FIIAP) (EU).

While receiving the girls on Sunday at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport in Abuja, NAPTIP Director-General Dr Fatima Waziri-Azi stated that the girls’ return was achieved through a collaborative effort.

The director-general, who was represented by Mrs Angela Agbayekhai, Head, Intelligent and International Corporation Unit, NAPTIP, explained that the process began when the agency received information from NACTAL, a partner NGO.

“You will agree with me that it is not just Mali that these children of ours have been, but we are happy today that we have been able to bring back these number of girls.

“It is our hope and plan that we will bring back more of these children, because we have so many of them still out there in Mali.

“Today we have 15 of them with a child of three years, a male child. A fact-finding team who went to Mali in 2017 estimated that there are about 20,000 Nigerians still trafficked there.

“These ones brought back today is a drop in the Ocean of the numbers of these Nigerians. This is a good start, NAPTIP D-G will work with the ministers concern to bring back as many as possible.

“Bringing them back was not difficult, we had on ground an NGO we work with based in Mali, we gathered information, share intelligence and it was easy to put them together,” Waziri-Azi said.

Mr Abdulganiyu Abubakar, the NACTAL President, stated that the whole process was made possible based on the partnership they have with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the 16 West African countries.

He said that NACTAL have implemented different mechanism in the 16 ECOWAS countries for the protection of children.

Abubakar said that there is no country in the region that have a formidable platform in terms of child protection mechanism like Nigeria.

He said that the partnership with ECOWAS countries on child protection mechanism led to the formation of West Africa Coalition Against Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants (WACTISOM).

“It is this initiative of WACTISOM that led to the identification of these young Nigerian girls; our partners in Mali have written to us about these 15 girls in their custody who are victims of trafficking.

“They have all escaped from their traffickers and want to return back home and we immediately contacted NAPTIP and A-TIPSOM. Mali is a major transit country for trafficking in persons,” he said.

Mrs Ugoh Ogbunide, the Technical Advisor on Partnership, A-TIPSOM, said that all what her organisation have done was to provide support for the return of the girls.

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