LAGOS – Lagos Zonal Command, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and Other Related Matters, says it has secured three major convictions against offenders this year.
The Zonal Commander, Mr Joseph Famakin, made the disclosure while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the activities of the command on Wednesday in Lagos.
Famakin disclosed that the agency secured victory in one of the cases involving a 67-year-old male hotel owner in Abeokuta, Ogun, and his two female accomplices who used underage girls for prostitution.
The judge, Justice Giwa Ogunbanjo, sentenced the man to five years imprisonment and his accomplices, two sisters, to seven years jail term.
He noted that the other two cases were also landmark achievements that were supposed to deter people from engaging in the illicit trade in human beings.
Famakin said that currently the command had 52 cases pending in the courts in the zone, adding that due process was being followed by the courts in disposing of them.
The zonal commander also disclosed that from January to date, the command had rescued 159 persons, including adults and children.
Famakin restated the agency’s commitment to curb the menace of trafficking in persons, saying that “with its new Anti-Trafficking Act, perpetrators of such acts are in for trouble’’.
He recalled that with the re-enactment and the assent by the President, the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition), Law Enforcement and Administration Act 2003 (as amended in 2005) had been repealed.
He said that the new Act is referred to as Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015, which was
assented to by President Goodluck Jonathan on March 26, 2015.
Famakin noted that the new law, which had changed the designation of the agency’s head from Executive Secretary to Director-General, had given it the power to “bark and bite’’.
“It has not only created more stringent punishment for offenders, but has prohibited the employment of a child below the age of 12 years as a domestic help.
“It has also prohibited the exploitation of a child under 18 years who is employed as a domestic help and prescribed punishment for aggravated circumstances like defilement of a child.
“The new law criminalises the removal of organs in line with the Palermo Protocol which has been ratified by Nigeria,’’ the zonal commander said.
He added that prior to the new law, the agency did not criminalise the removal of organs because it felt it was not a common phenomenon in the country.
“But the times have shown that some of the organs removed were being used for other things than saving lives.’’
NAN reports that the law also restructured the governing board of the agency to include relevant government agencies such as Federal Ministries of Justice, Women Affairs and Foreign Affairs.
Others are the Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Immigration Service and National Intelligence Agency.
Famakin warned that the agency would not compromise in executing its mandate in line with the dictates of its new law and warned all who had been using children under 12 years as domestic help to desist.
The zonal commander also said that its collaboration with other security and law enforcement agencies was yielding positive results. (NAN)
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