By Ngozi Nwankwo
National Agency for The Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, has flagged off its sensitisation and inauguration of Anti-Human trafficking/ Violence against Persons vanguards in Lungi Command Secondary School, Abuja.
The flag-off was to educate the young people and strengthen awareness on the scourge of human trafficking in the country.
Speaking at the event, the Director General, NAPTIP, Dr. Fatima Waziri-Azi said the Agency got the approval from Federal Minister of Education in 2021 to inaugurate anti-human trafficking vanguards in 110 unity schools in the country, adding that so far, the anti- human trafficking has been inaugurated in 80 schools.
Explaining to the students the work of the Agency, Waziri-Azi said, NAPTIP investigates all forms of human trafficking, whether child labour, force labour, selling and buying of children, organ harvesting, debt bondage and other related matters, and has power to prosecute anybody participated in the acts.
She said NAPTIP operates in the 36 states of the country including FCT, with its 29 offices scattered all over the states, assuring that, no hiding place for human traffickers as the agency will always apprehend and prosecute them.
For the reason the Agency establishes anti- human trafficking vanguards, Waziri-Azi explained that, ” We did research on how best to communicate to the young people and one of the outcomes was to establish brigade in primary schools, vanguards in Secondary schools and club in universities and that is why we are here.
Speaking further she said, “The purpose of Vanguards is to create a platform where you can educate and sensitise yourselves on the issues of human trafficking because we understand that trafficking happens both in and outside schools, therefore, it is important for you to know the signs and you will only know the signs if you are informed.
“The only way you can protect yourself from human trafficking is by educating yourself, your peers, and your parents because everybody is at risk of falling victim.”
The DG, however, warned the students especially those that have smartphones to be careful who they follow on the internet, adding that human traffickers are recruiting their victims both on and off lines.
“Stop following people on the internet, they are lies, focus on yourself. No free meal anywhere, if it is free you are the product,” she advised.
She promised that NAPTIP officers will regularly carry out evaluation and monitoring in the already vanguard established schools to ensure that the project is working.
In his own speech, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Faruk Yahaya commended NAPTIP for establishing vanguards in the military schools for the safety of students.
Represented by Army Headquarters Garrison Education Director, Brig General U A Mammadi , the COAS pledged the military’s support for the NAPTIP’s project and its fight against human trafficking.