By Emeka Samuel, Uyo
No fewer than 1,444 persons have been rescued and processed by the Uyo zone of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, since last year.
Zonal commander of the agency, Mrs. Tina Ugwu who disclosed this to journalists in Uyo on Thursday, said that 723 of the victims were from Akwa Ibom while 413,282 and 16 were from Cross River, Bayelsa and Rivers respectively.
Within the period, Ugwu said the agency investigated over 568 of the 1,035 cases it received, convicted 52 traffickers while 11 were still in court.
“For the number of cases received, the command received 1,035 cases with 1,035 suspects. It investigated over 568 cases. The command convicted about 52 traffickers in the zone with 11 cases still in court at different levels of prosecution.
“Then, specifically for my assumption that’s from the beginning of March, the command has had about 17 cases . We have about 10 of them under investigation, and three that are fully investigated. We have about three cases with our legal unit which they are going to file today and tomorrow.” She explained.
The Zonal Commander who described the media as strategic partners in the fight against trafficking however decried the high incidences of sale of babies in Akwa Ibom and said that efforts have intensified to apprehend those who perpetuate the crime.
According to her collaboration with sister agencies who have their presence at the borders have produced outstanding results as most of the cases handled by the agency were transferred from them while NAPTIP have assisted in giving some of their staff strategic training in their operations.
Ugwu further stated that the agency has over the years developed a close working relationship with community vigilantes, traditional rulers and the various ministries in charge of women affairs in the state in a bid to sensitize residents on the dangers of trafficking.
She decried the activities of many Traditional Birth Attendants and warned that the agency would not spare any of them found culpable even as she regretted that most couples connive with them in their illegal activities.
“And to make matters worse, some families agree to this procedure and the so called pregnant mothers know they are not pregnant but because of desperation to own a child accept any condition they are given by those homes’ ‘, she added.