The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons in collaboration with the Network Against Child Trafficking, Abuse and Labour have secured the release of 15 Nigerian girls trafficked to Mali.
The girls, whom one of them is having a three-year old boy and two pregnant, were released with the support of Action Against Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants in Nigeria.
A-TIPSOM is a project being implemented in Nigeria by the International and Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policy and is being sponsored by the European Union.
Speaking during the arrival of the girls on Sunday at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja, the NAPTIP Director General, Fatima Waziri-Azi, stated that the return of the girls was achieved through collaborative effort.
Represented by the Head, Intelligent and International Corporation Unit, NAPTIP, Angela Agbayekhai, the director-general said the process started through the information the agency got from NACTAL, an NGO working in partnership.
She said, “You will agree with me that it is not just Mali that these children of ours have been, but we are happy today that we have been able to bring back these number of girls.
“It is our hope and plan that we will bring back more of these children, because we have so many of them still out there in Mali.
“Today, we have 15 of them with a child of three years, a male child. A fact-finding team who went to Mali in 2017 estimated that there are about 20,000 Nigerians still trafficked there.
“These ones brought back today is a drop in the Ocean of the numbers of these Nigerians. This is a good start, NAPTIP D-G will work with the ministers concern to bring back as many as possible.
“Bringing them back was not difficult as we had on ground an NGO we work with based in Mali. We gathered information, share intelligence and it was easy to put them together.”
The NACTAL President, Abdulganiyu Abubakar, stated that the whole process was made possible based on the partnership they have with Civil Society Organisations in the 16 West African countries.
He said that NACTAL have implemented different mechanism in the 16 ECOWAS countries for the protection of children.
Abubakar said that there is no country in the region that have a formidable platform in terms of child protection mechanism like Nigeria.
He said that the partnership with ECOWAS countries on child protection mechanism led to the formation of West Africa Coalition Against Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants.