The Nigerian government takes a tougher stance against human trafficking.
Any person found guilty of trafficking in human beings risks a seven-year jail term if the proposed draft Bill to check the menace scales the legislative process in the National Assembly.
The Executive Council of the Federation, FEC, on Wednesday in Abuja approved a draft Bill titled “Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition, Enforcement and Administration) Bill, 2012”, which is ready for onward presentation to the National Assembly for consideration, deliberation and passage into law.
Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, told reporters at the end of the FEC meeting chaired by President Goodluck Jonathan that the existing legal framework, “Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition), Law Enforcement and Administration Act, 2003 (as amended)”, is fraught with deficiencies and grossly inadequate to effectively combat the scourge of human trafficking in the country.”
He noted that several provisions in the existing law are inconsistent with the requirements of the Trafficking in persons Protocol, Supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, (Palermo Convention) 2000, adding that the main objective of the current Bill is to repeal and cure the identified defects.
When passed by the National Assembly, the minister said the new law would reposition the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons for effective delivery of its mandate and provide a more comprehensive legal and institutional framework for the prohibition, prevention, detection, prosecution and punishment of human trafficking offences.
The Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Ama Pepple, who also briefed reporters on the outcome of the meeting, announced that a local construction firm, E. C. Oba Industrial Company Limited, has been blacklisted by the Federal Government from handling any public building contracts for constructing a defective building for the Navy in Gwarimpa, which later collapsed.
On her part, Minister of State for Defence, Olusola Obada, said the Naval officer responsible for the supervision of the demolition of the building would also be disciplined according to Navy and public service rules, while similar sanctions would be meted out to officials of the Ministry of Housing, Lands and Urban Development who designed and supervised the construction.
She also said that the technical officers who designed and supervised the building were found guilty, while the company hired to demolish it was incompetent.
Mrs. Obada, who also presented a report of the achievement and challenges of the Defence Ministry, spoke of the great achievements by the armed forces in the last one year, including increase in capacity saying the armed forces are doing much better today than before.
According to her, by looking inwards, the armed forces developed the capacity to develop a local unmanned surveillance aircraft (Amebo), armoured personnel carrier, and other equipment, while establishing a new helicopter training school in Enugu.
On internal security operations, the Council noted the achievements of the government agencies in conjunction with other security and intelligence forces, which has resulted in drastic reduction in illegal oil bunkering activities, adding that remarkable successes have been recorded in tackling local insurgency with outstanding performance in international peacekeeping operations.
On allegations that the Federal Government plans to spend about N300billion on the development of the hospitality and leisure sector, Minister of Tourism, Edem Duke, and Minister of State for Finance, Yerima Ngama, said no such fund exists for such purposes, as the industry is largely private sector-driven.
Mr. Ngama said the realistic figure is the N30 billion (about $200m) intervention fund provided for the entertainment industry as a loan from India Export-Import, EXIM bank.
The FEC also ratified the World Trade Organisation, WTO amended protocol on intellectual property rights that would allow countries like Nigeria to locally produce, in times of emergency, drugs and other necessities, patented by big companies.
In continuation of its performance appraisal and assessment exercise for MDAs, Minister of Education, Ruqayyatu Rufa’i, also told the Council of the significant strides recorded in the intervention to promote girl child education; almajiri education; and intensification of teacher education at all levels.
She however called for increased participation of the private sector because “education is capital intensive” even as she urged state governments to increase attention being paid to education.