The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons received 5,275 calls reporting human trafficking-related cases nationwide from September 2021 to August 2022.
The agency also said it secured 36 convictions in nine months.
It noted that its partnership with the social media giant, Facebook, in September 2021 opened a new conduit that received at least 70,000 reports and cases of online trafficking and sextortion in 10 months.
In its performance report highlighting the one-year since its current Director-General, Dr Fatima Waziri-Azi, assumed office, the agency argued that although thousands of trafficking cases exist nationwide, they were hardly reported due to poor reporting channels which could not protect victims from retribution.
NAPTIP explained that it secured at least 42 convictions within that period, with 36 of those in 2022 alone.
While noting that it filed 18 cases of human trafficking and 35 cases of violence against persons in court within that period, the report, however, did not say how many individuals were involved in the VAPP cases or their current stages of prosecution.
Over the years, NAPTIP’s number of convictions secured has not been commensurate with the number of traffickers arraigned in court.
A recent analysis by Saturday PUNCH revealed that 237 out of the 3,457 human traffickers NAPTIP arraigned in court were prosecuted for various offenses in the seven years from 2015 to 2021.
This constitutes only 6.86 per cent of the total number of traffickers arraigned within those seven years.
More so, the agency recorded 505 convictions in 19 years of existence, its Q1 2022 report shows.
According to experts who spoke with our correspondent on the matter, victims’ reluctance to testify—in court—against their traffickers continues to frustrate prosecution efforts.
The Executive Director of the Women Trafficking and Child Labour Eradication Foundation, Imaobong Ladipo-Sanusi, noted that the slow-paced judicial process also contributed to the challenge.
“It’s not that NAPTIP does not want to get more convictions. It is largely because of the uphill task of getting victims to testify. You actually need the testimony of the victim.
“Sometimes, it’s difficult to establish this issue of human trafficking, especially when family members are involved. Victim witnessing in court is strenuous work for NAPTIP. There’s Stockholm Syndrome where victims believe their traffickers were doing them good.
“Also, some families go behind and tell their children not to cooperate with NAPTIP. Then there’s the court process. It is not something you do in one day. The victims get tired. Also, only a High Court can prosecute cases of human trafficking. That’s another challenge.”