Nigeria’s anti-human trafficking agency gets new director

President Muhammadu Buhari has fired Senator Basheer Mohammed, Director-General of the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), and appointed Dr Fatima Waziri-Azi to replace him.

Mohammed had been appointed on 27 May 2021 to replace Imaan Suleiman Ibrahim.

Ms Ibrahim herself had only been on the job for less than six months before her removal, having been appointed on 1 December 2020 to replace Dame Julie Okah-Donli.

The removal of Okah-Donli, who had only been appointed the new chair of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons (UNVTF) in November 2020, came as surprise to the watchers of the agency, which is tasked with fighting human trafficking in Nigeria.

One wonders why this unusual turnover of chief executives at the agency!

The new Director-General, Ms Waziri-Azi, a former Head of Department of Public Law at the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, is a Women’s Right advocate and campaigner against domestic and sexual based violence.

Speaking after the formal handling over by her predecessor, the new NAPTIP chief who lauded Management and Officers of the Agency for its modest achievements in the areas of arrest, rescue, prosecution and awareness creation, said the negative narrative about Nigeria as a Source, transit and destination for human trafficking must be changed.

“I am not here as your Director General to rock the boat. Rather I am here to join hands with you and ensure effective coordination of the fight against human trafficking in the Country. We all must re-strategize and change the negative perception and narratives about Nigeria as the Source, Transit and destination for human trafficking,” she added.

Ms Waziri-Azi vowed to go after high-profile human traffickers across the country saying that her administration will not spare any offender no matter their status in the society.

NAPTIP was created in 2003 as Nigeria’s response to addressing the scourge of trafficking in persons. It was a fulfillment of the country’s international obligation under the Trafficking in Persons Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children, supplementing the United Nations Transnational Organized Crime Convention (UNTOC).

Kola Tella

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