The National Agency for Prohibition of Traffic in Persons says it has secured the conviction of 599 human traffickers between 2004 and now.
The Benin Zonal Commander of the agency, Nduka Nwawenne, gave the figure on Monday at a consulative workshop organised for judges and magistrates in Edo State by the Uromi Justice Development Peace and Caritas Initiative.
The consultative workshop was on “the Operationalisation of the Victims of Trafficking Trust Fund in Edo State.”
Nwawenne said NAPTIP’s first conviction was recorded in Edo State where the convict was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment in a judgment delivered on November 19, 2004 by the then Chief Judge of the state, Justice Constance Momoh.
He added that the agency recorded 80 convictions in 2022, making it the highest number of annual convictions in the country.
He also disclosed that 27 convictions had so far been secured by the agency this year.
Nwawenne said there was a need to strengthen victims protection by making the trafficking trust fund more operational to enhance the assistance and protection of victims of human trafficking in Edo State.
He said, “I must say that 599 persons have been convicted in the country since we got the first conviction in 2004.
“The provision of the trust funds is supposed to be an effective instrument in the rehabilitation and reintegration of victims of human trafficking. However, both in the Edo State law and in the national law, the funds have not been effective, even though at the federal level, a committee exists to attract and manage the funds.”
Earlier in his opening remarks, the Executive Director, Uromi JPDCI, Revd Father Fidelis Arhedo, said the workshop was to mobilise relevant stakeholders and galvanise actions towards the activation of victims of trafficking trust fund as contained in the Edo Traffic in Persons Prohibition law 2018.