ISAAC JOB, UYO
The National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has said that 1,444 victims rescued from human traffickers in Akwa Ibom in the last one year.
Speaking with The Trumpet in Uyo on Thursday, the Zonal Commander of the agency, Mrs Tina Ugwu said that 723 of the victims were from Akwa Ibom while 413,282 and another 16 persons were from Cross River, Bayelsa and Rivers respectively.
Ugwu said that within the period, the Agency has investigated over 568 of the 1,035 cases it received, convicted 62 traffickers while 11 cases were still in court.
” For the number of cases received, the command received 1,035 cases with 1,035 suspects. It investigated over 568 cases. The command convicted about 52 traffickers in the zone with 11 cases still in court at different levels of prosecution. ”
“Then, specifically for my assumption that’s from the beginning of March, the commandant has had about 17 cases. We have about 10 of them under investigation and three that are fully investigated. We have about three cases with our legal elite which they are going to file today and tomorrow.” She explained.
The Zonal Commander who described the media as strategic partners in the fight against trafficking however decried the high incidences of sale of babies in Akwa Ibom and said that efforts have intensified to apprehend those who perpetuate the crime.
She said collaboration with sister agencies who have their presence at the borders has produced outstanding results as most of the cases handled by the agency were transferred from them while NAPTIP has assisted in giving some of their staff strategic training in their operations.
Ugwu further stated that the Agency has over the years developed a close working relationship with community vigilantees, traditional rulers and the various ministries in charge of women affairs in the state in a bid to sensitize residents on the dangers of trafficking.
She decried the activities of many Traditional Birth Attendants and warned that the agency would not spare any of them found culpable even as she regretted that most couples connive with them in their illegal activities.
“And to make matters worse, some families agree to this procedure and the so-called pregnant mothers know they are not pregnant but because of desperation to own a child accept any condition, they are given by those homes.
And those homes have always found a way to evade arrest but we have a Task Force in place to monitor the TBAs with evidence of agreement between them and couples.” She said.
The zonal commander explained that most failed DNA tests were product of cryptic and fake pregnancies because they also produce fake babies that are not from married couples.
Ugwu attributed the rise in sale of babies to broken homes and single Parenthood and advised parents who are unable to cater for their children to ask for help or register their children for formal adoption.