By Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Sun Newspaper shone penultimate Tuesday night in Abuja as it was singled out by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) for a special award for the newspaper’s uncommon reports on human trafficking.
The award, which was held during NAPTIP’s 2017 Award Night elicited loud ovation from the audience.
Director-general of NAPTIP, Dame Julie Okah-Donli, who presented the award to chief judiciary correspondent, Godwin Tsa, said: “It was in recognition of your distinctive contributions and collaboration in the fight against human trafficking in Nigeria.”
Daily Sun was selected for the award for its incisive and illuminating reports on human trafficking, especially its exposé on the ordeals of the Cross River State University undergraduate, Joy Odama, who was allegedly murdered in Abuja.
The European Union (EU), United Nations Office On Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Women Trafficking and Child Labour Eradication Fund (WOTCLEF), were among others awardees alongside Daily Sun.
Pioneer executive secretary of NAPTIP, Mrs. Carol Ndaguba, and all past chief executive officers of the agency, Mr. Chuzy Simon Egede and Mrs. Beatrice Jedy-Agba, were given meritorious service award.
In all, a total of 75 merit awards in five categories were issued at the ceremony, including 30 NAPTIP officers, who received cash prizes from N20,000 to N120,000.
The director-general observed that, “2017 was quite a busy year in NAPTIP, starting from my assumption of office in April till date.
“We have not rested on our oars to upgrade our operations to international standards”
Donli restated the commitment of the agency “to NAPTIP’s vision and mission to stamp out unscrupulous traffickers from our country, with a focus on NAPTIP’s strategic 5Ps of policy, prevention, protection, prosecution and partnership.”
She noted that “in the last few years, NAPTIP identified partnership as a strategic tool for growth and organisational development. Adequate engagement of this tool (partnership) entails the active participation of two or more like-minded entities, who share a common goal, aspiration and vision.”
In her speech on the occasion, chairperson of the award committee, Mrs. Benedicta Ojougbana, said the awards were in five categories, including the Direcror-general’s Merit Award and Best Management Staff, Diligence and Productivity Award, Meritorious Service Award, Best Zonal Command Award and Special Recognition Award to key stakeholders.
Meanwhile, the director -general of NAPTIP has expressed fear over the rate and the dimension human trafficking is taking, saying that the development has now attained “a national and international epidemic” proportions.
Donli also said, “Human trafficking is not just a national disaster but it is also an international epidemic in the sense that right here in Nigeria, we have internal human trafficking where there is a lot of domestic servitude in the name of houseboy, housegirl and all of that.”
The NAPTIP boss disclosed further that sexual exploitation also takes place in the course of sending people into domestic work.
According to her, the new dimension in human trafficking is called “organs harvesting,” whereby victims are killed and their organs are dismembered and sold.
“This is a situation where organs are sold for money and that has become a very frightening thing that is going on right now all over the world. That is why I say it is an international and national epidemic and disaster.
“We also have sexual exploitation in terms of international trafficking, when victims are taken out of the country and are used for sexual exploitation, they are also used for domestic servitude because of cheap labour in European countries and then they also have what we call organs harvesting,” she said.
In her remarks, Donli disclosed that, from 2003 to date, NAPTIP has secured about 329 convictions, with more to come, stressing that, “We have a lot of cases coming up in the courts and we are hoping to get more convictions as the fight goes on.”