By Dele Ogbodo
The federal government through the National Agency for the Prohibition in Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), has refuted an allegation by the Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, that it is not cooperating with the state government over the Euros 100 given by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to trafficked indigenes of the state who recently returned from Libya.
Mr. Josiah Emerole, Spokesperson for NAPTIP in a statement made available to Sharpedgenews Online on Wednesday night, said NAPTIP’s attention has been drawn to reports quoting the governor accusing the agency of not cooperating with his government in the fight against human trafficking especially with the on-going evacuation and reintegration of returnees from Libya.
Emerole, said: “On the issue of packages for the returnees, it is important to note that the One hundred Euro to returnees being referred to was given directly to returnees whom the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) brought back from Libya through Lagos.
“The project is part of their voluntary returns programme and the money was paid directly to the returnees by the IOM as promised before the returnees embarked on the journey back home. NAPTIP therefore, has nothing to do with that package.
“The reports also quoted the Governor as accusing the Agency of not properly guiding the federal government on packages for evacuated victims from Libya, and alluding to the fact that the batches evacuated by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) were given one hundred Euros each.”
The NAPTIP Spokesperson added that the present evacuation of Nigerians from Libya is not NAPTIP’s project but that of the federal government as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari, stressing that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is the coordinating agency for the exercise.
He said: “NAPTIP is only a member of the federal government’s mission to Libya and has its personnel who are working with other sister agencies in Port Harcourt to assist the returnees on arrival through profiling and psychosocial assistance especially for victims of human trafficking amongst them.
“The business of NAPTIP so far has been to identify the victims and suspects of human trafficking and take them to NAPTIPs facilities in Benin, Uyo and Lagos for further assistance. The agency does not have access to funds for this project since NEMA is the coordinating Agency for the project.”
Emerole stated that NAPTIP merely advised that states should not whisk their citizens away immediately upon arrival from Libya, without adequate psychosocial counselling and care and adequate shelters with necessary facilities, as these people have been through immense trauma and need to be gently reintegrated back into the society after proper counselling.
Doing otherwise, according to the statement will amount to a disaster waiting to happen as some have committed some crimes in Libya, some have health challenges that should be checked, while some are very demoralised and in dire need of a morale boost.
“Therefore they need proper attention and failure to provide these by the states defeats the essence of the federal government’s timely and capital-intensive intervention. Edo State Government is advised to please work harmoniously with NAPTIP.” He said.