Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State on Friday inaugurated a high-powered 17-man Task Force to check human trafficking and irregular migration in the state.
The inauguration of the task force by Mr Okowa in Asaba, the state capital was witnessed by the Director-General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) Julie Okah-Donli.
The State Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General, Peter Mrakpor, was appointed by the governor as Chairman of the task force.
The governor said the inauguration of a task force had become necessary because of the rising number of trafficked persons from the state.
“We are very worried as a state that we occupy a high position among the states affected by human trafficking and irregular migration; we are therefore committed to stem the tide. That is why we are setting up this serious task force.”
“We need to reach out to our people and discourage them from seeking greener pastures that do not exist; irregular migration and human trafficking are evils that have visited our state and they must be checked.
“We will need to get the Church, the traditional institutions, the youths and all relevant groups to be involved.
“We need partners to carry this message to a lot of persons within the shortest possible time to check irregular migration and human trafficking.’’
Mr Okowa pledged his administration’s readiness to carry out reintegration programmes for returnees.
“We have chosen the right set of persons to be members of the Task Force; and we congratulate them believing that they will carry out their functions diligently,” he said.
In her address, Mrs Okah-Donli, tasked the task force on service delivery, adding that it was not a money making engagement.
“The Task Force is not a money making venture, but a service to humanity.
“It is expected that the task force will use this platform to prevent human trafficking, support and protect trafficked persons through a more coordinated approach in the state.
“It is to develop strategies and state action plans on counter-trafficking issues, carry out programmes for effective reintegration of trafficked victims into the society.
“Members are to work with the state Ministry of Justice on how to protect, assist and provide access to justice for victims of trafficking, among others.
She commended the governor for his courage and determination to check human trafficking and irregular migration in the state.
Responding on behalf of members of the team, Mr Mrakpor thanked Mr Okowa for the opportunity to serve the state and humanity.
“We will do our best to carry out our functions without fear of favour,” he said.
Members of the task force also include notable religious and traditional leaders in the state, other respected personalities; as well as top security personnel, including the Commissioner of Police, Yinka Adeleke.