Isaac Job, Uyo
The National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons ( NAPTIP), has said that i it rescued a total of 1,444 victims from human traffickers in AKwa Ibom in the last one year .
Speaking to our Correspondent on Thursday in Uyo, the Zonal Commander of the Agency, Mrs Tina Ugwu said that out of the figure, 723 of the victims were from Akwa Ibom, while 413, 282 and 17 persons were from Cross River, Bayelsa and Rivers respectively.
Ugwu said that within the period, the agency investigated over 568 out of the 1,035 cases it received, convicted 62 traffickers, while 11 cases 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.”
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 noted that efforts were being made 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.
”NAPTIP have assisted in giving some of their staff strategic training in their operations,” she added.
Ugwu further said that the agency had over the years developed a close working relationship with community vigilantees, 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, adding that 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.
”And those homes have always found a way to evade arrest but we have a Task Force in place to monitor the traditional birth attendants with evidences of agreement between them and couples,” she said.
The zonal commander explained that most failed DNA tests were product of criptic and fake pregnancies because they also produce fake babies that are not from married couples.
Ugwu attributed rise in sale of babies rampant to broken homes and single parenthood and advised parents who are unable to cater for their children to ask for help or register their children for formal adoption.