The US says Nigeria is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking.
The Federal Government has said it will appeal the decision of a Federal High Court in Abuja rejecting its application to extradite Kingsley Edegbe to Netherlands for trial over alleged human trafficking.
The Executive Secretary of National Agency for Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and other Related Matters, NAPTIP, Beatrice Jedy-Agba, said this in Abuja on Tuesday.
“We were so disappointed at the judgment and we intend to appeal against it because we think it is something we need to test,” she said.
“We are strongly of the view the judge did not appropriately look at the implication of Nigeria’s participation in the trafficking in person’s protocol and being party to the convention and the protocol.
“We want to test that on appeal and hopefully we should get a reversal.
“Nigeria is bound by the provisions of the transnational organised crime convention which makes it clear that all state parties should cooperate in regard to extradition and mutual legal assistance.’’
Ms. Jedy-Agba argued that Nigeria had domesticated the convention in several ways, including through the ICPC Act, EFCC Act and the laws establishing NAPTIP and NDLEA.
On prosecution of human trafficking offenders, the NAPTIP boss said over 240 convictions had been secured by the agency since its establishment in 2003.
In the past one year, she said NAPTIP initiated 314 trafficking investigations, completed 43 prosecutions and achieved 42 convictions.
On the protection of victims of trafficking, she said the federal government was collaborating with relevant agencies from several countries to ensure the return and reintegration of Nigerian victims.
Ms. Jedy Agba said Nigeria was working closely with the U.S. Government to develop “an appropriate policy” that provides support for voluntary returnees and those stranded abroad because of trafficking.
“A memo has been sent to Mr President for his attention and consideration on this issue.
“Hopefully, within the next few week, we will see a presidential committee set up to look into this issue and ensure that we have something which is holistic’’, she said.
Ms. Jedy-Agba applauded the contributions of her predecessors at NAPTIP and other government agencies for being one of this year’s recipients of the 2014 Anti- Trafficking Hero by the U.S government.
“This award will certainly not blind me to the huge task of tackling the most insidious crimes of our generation.
“My vision is to get the whole of government and whole of society to respond in a holistic manner, consistent with the mercurial nature and evil dynamics of the crime”, she said.
The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria described human trafficking as “modern day slavery” which affects virtually every country, including the United States.
“In 2014, there were between 21 and 29 million people living as modern-day slaves.
“That figure is staggering; countries around the world are doing a lot to put an end to trafficking in persons and 116 countries have already enacted laws to prohibit all forms of trafficking.’’
He praised Ms. Jedy-Agba for working tirelessly, since her appointment as head of NAPTIP in 2011, to advance an amended Trafficking in Persons, TIP, Bill at the National assembly.
The bill would impose prison terms to traffickers, as opposed to fines.
The U.S ambassador expressed delight that the amended TIP bill was passed by the Nigerian Senate in March and was awaiting passage in the House.
The 2014 US TIP report lists Nigeria as “Tier 2” countries whose government does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, but are making “significant efforts’’ to do so.
The report which was published last month said Nigeria was “a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking.
Ms. Jedy-Agba spoke at a reception in honour of her award as 2014 Anti Trafficking Hero by the U.S government.