NIGERIA: State to Partner with the Church in War against Human Trafficking

By Arnold Neliba

ABUJA, JULY 16, 2020 (CISA)-The Federal Government of Nigeria has reached out to the Catholic Church in the country for a collaboration in the fight against human trafficking and rape.

This came out when Dame Julie Okah-Donli, Director General of National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), with her team of collaborators, paid a courtesy visit to Archbishop Ignatius A. Kaigama on Monday, July 13.

“The purpose of the visit was to seek partnership with the Catholic Church and find possible areas of collaboration in the fight against trafficking and rape of persons,” Fr Joseph Abu reported on Archbishop Kaigama’s Facebook Page.

NAPTIP was established in 2003 by the Federal Government of Nigeria as a specialized counter trafficking agency to address the challenge of human trafficking.

It is tasked with coordinating all laws on trafficking in persons in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies, partnering with relevant organizations and institutions in the fight against human trafficking, and promoting awareness on the dangers of human trafficking.

“The Director General observed that incidences of rape in the country have dramatically increased in the past few weeks, resulting in the brutal murder of some victims. Therefore, it is important to partner with the Church and other faith-based organizations in the fight against violence meted on persons,” he said.

Speaking during the meeting, Archbishop Kaigama commended the agency for their enthusiasm and passion, aimed at safeguarding victims of human trafficking, noting that the case of rape is not just sinful but a criminal offence.

Further he said the Catholic Church is willing to collaborate and partner with NAPTIP to blot out this menace.

“The Archbishop also made it known to the team that the Catholic Church at the international scene is already involved in the fight against rape and trafficking of persons, citing the recent presentation of the policy on safeguarding minors and vulnerable persons in the Archdiocese of Abuja, in line with the Holy Father’s directive,” Fr Abu reported.

“To this effect, the Archdiocese has inaugurated a committee made up of Priests, legal and medical personnel and experts in different fields who are committed and open to work with the agency in order to combat human trafficking and other similar human rights violations,” he added.

The Catholic Church in Africa has been committed in the war against human trafficking realized through its participation in Santa Marta Group Conferences held annually. Santa Marta Group is an international alliance of leaders in law enforcement, and the Church from around the world working together with civil society to counter human trafficking.

Part of the resolutions from the second African Regional Conference of the Santa Marta held in Nairobi in October 2019 called on Bishop’s conferences in Africa to pay special attention to the fight against human trafficking by creating special desks within the conferences and in the dioceses to address human trafficking.