Agency rescues 22 teenage girls, Says ‘A’Ibom very endemic,’ As Ephraim Inyangeyen intervenes.

Twenty teenage Akwa Ibom girls were rescued and returned to the state at the weekend, raising alarm over the increasing rate of human trafficking in the state, despite the state government efforts to stem the tide of such ills by the provision of free education and skills acquisition opportunities for youths.

Daily, our girls are falling victims to the sleight of human traffickers who hide under the guise of providing greener pastures to their victims outside the state. A survey of how they rescued girls were lured and taken outside the state revealed that most of them, aged from fifteen to nineteen, were promised jobs such as salesperson in boutiques, restaurants and supermarkets in Lagos, only to be dumped in brothels and coerced into prostitution. They were, however, rescued and transported back to the state by National Agency for Prohibition of Human Trafficking and Other Offences (NAPTIP).

Equally the same number of girls are awaiting evacuation from Ghana back to the state.
However, the burden of feeding, housing, medicals and ensuring that the girls are properly re-orientated, trained and empowered before re-joining them with their families has overstretched the resources of the agency, as it appeals to the State Government and public-spirited persons to come to their aid.

Harvesting of body parts of victims
Aside from human-trafficking, a dangerous trend by a syndicate who specializes in harvesting victims’ body parts and selling them for either rituals or to hospitals, is becoming alarming.
Raising the alarm at the zonal office in Uyo last week, the zonal commander, Mr Ubong David Ekwere, expressed anxiety over the new trend and warned citizens to be alert and suspicious of any offers for jobs or traveling opportunities.

How body parts traffickers operate
This is carried out by a sophisticated syndicate in connivance with some medical persons. QuestNews 24 learnt that the syndicate will drug the drinks and foods offered to their victims, sedate them, before moving them to a clinic to remove their essential body parts such as the liver and womb.

After waking to see herself in a clinic and asking how she got there, they would be told, “Oh, you slumped and we had to rush you to the theatre for surgery after you were diagnosed of appendicitis,” not knowing your vital organ has been removed, as the wound would be stitched back, while sedated. Narrating the sad happenings, the zonal commander urged citizens to be alert and avoid being trafficked for whatever reason.

Increase in child trafficking
Meanwhile, the rate of child trafficking was observed to be higher in Akwa Ibom State than other neighbouring states. Over 1,500 case have been recorded, with many convictions of traffickers so far. According the zonal commander, Akwa Ibom State was highly endemic to the trade and sought strong collaboration with the State Government to arrest the development. A clear case was that of a three day old baby that was rescued at Port Harcourt airport as she was being trafficked out of the state but the eagle eyes of the agency led to the rescue of the baby.

The booming baby factories
Another disturbing trend gaining traction is baby factory trade now widespread in Akwa Ibom State. The agency warned parents and guardians against accepting to give out their children and wards to be used as house helps and nannies, as many of them ended up in baby factories, where they are forcefully put in a family way by unknown men, who will later sell the babies for either rituals or to anyone in desperate need for a child. According, the zonal commander, the baby factory business is very lucrative, as a baby boy goes for as high as 1.2 million naira while a girl goes for 800 thousands naira. Victims cut across job seekers, missing persons and young girls given our as maids.

Inhibitions to surmount
Meanwhile, the agency resources are over-stretched, particularly for the rehabilitation of the rescued victims who are taken to the agency’s rehabilitation centre for reorientation, skill development and empowerment, before allowed to re-join the society.

A major handicap of the agency hampering its operations, however, is mobility. Functional vehicles for swift rescue operation were unavailable. It was observed that two operational buses in its premises were completely out of use and needed replacement urgently to aid the agency’s operations.

Ephraim Inyangeyn to the rescue
It was at such stage that the Chief of Staff to the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Akparawa Ephraim Inyangeyen came to the agency’s rescue recently. Having heard of the humanitarian nature of NAPTIP in Akwa Ibom State and the hiccups slowing down its performance, the COS decided on his own to quickly assist the agency by refurbishing the agencies broken down Toyota hillux, with the hope of seeking further administration’s supports for the agency.

Presenting the refurbished hillux to the agency, last week, Akparawa Ephraim Inyangeyen lauded the organization for the work it was doing for the good of the state. According to him, though NAPTIP is a Federal Government’s agency, the organization was working for the good of the citizens of Akwa Ibom State and should be supported to enhance its performance. Presenting the vehicle to the zonal office staff, he said: “Everything cannot just be government, this is my little contribution to the organization. I have seen what you have done and that has made me to assist you in my own little way. This vehicle will help you to continue in the good work you are doing for the State.”

He also assured the agency that their request for more operational vehicles was receiving the attention of the State Government and would be reviewed at appropriate time, adding that he was burdened to assist them when he noticed how they operational staff of the agency were struggling with a tattered vehicle. “When I learned how you struggle to rescue our children from Lagos, Port Harcourt, Benin and other states who were taken there for slavery, I decided to personally intervene, so you can continue in the good work you’re doing for the people of Akwa Ibom State. You’re Federal Government staff but you’re not working for federal government but for our people in Akwa Ibom State. The COS called on other public spirited persons to support the good work of the agency.

Inclusion in AKSG’s Security Council
To ensure effective collaboration with other intelligent gathering agencies of Government, NAPTIP has appealed for inclusion in the State Security Council as this will give her the advantage of sharing vital intel with other agencies, make regular reports and interchange expertise where necessary for prompt rescue action. The organization lamented over a situation where their informants would pass urgent intel but the intricacies of accessing assistance from other security
The refurbished Toyata hillux; the only functional vehicle NAPTIP now has for her operations in Uyo agencies like the police, immigration, SSS, etc., were delaying rescue time and in some cases, they missed the target. But being part of the regular security briefing of the state will boost their timely intervention, as it would always need armed operatives to back up their operations, particularly when raiding syndicate hideouts.

Meanwhile, the agency’s buses used in conveying the victims are also down, while the premises housing the agency’s office is begging for attention, as it seeks further supports to bolster its operations.

Quest News 24

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *