Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants (TIPSOM) are at their core, a financially-motivated crimes. The vast majority of TIPSOM, regardless of type, is carried out by its perpetrators with financial incentive in mind and annually, it generates an estimated 150 billion USD in profits off the exploitation of people. Its scope and reach are global, impacting every country in the world and virtually every economic sector of society.
Under The Action Against Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants in Nigeria (A-TIPSOM), a project funded by European Union, the International Ibero-America Foundation for Administration and Public Policies (FIIAPP) in collaboration with Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) organized a 3-day capacity building workshop to enhance the capacity of NAPTIP, NIS and Police Investigators in conducting parallel financial investigations into the proceeds of Traffickers and Smugglers.
The training which which held on 22nd June to 24th June 2021 in Abuja was attended by 45 participants selected from National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), and Nigeria Police Force (NPF) across Rivers, Kano, Lagos, Edo, Kaduna and FCT. The training was facilitated by experts and practitioners from the EFCC in Abuja and was delivered in andragogical (adult learning) method through presentations and group work to illustrate better understanding among the participants.
Speaking at the opening session, Abdulrasheed Bawa, chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC ), who was represented by the Comandant of EFCC Academy, Mr. Ayo Olawonihi says most human trafficking and migrant smuggling to Nigeria is motivated by financial incentives.
The EFCC boss said the criminal activities surrounding TIPSOM generate $ 150 billion a year globally, adding that an investigation into its financial aspects could help law enforcement stem the threat.
He added that “the investigation and prosecution of human traffickers and smugglers must therefore be stepped up to contain the threat.
“The prosecution will respect the rule of law, ensure the safety of the community, protect victims and help prevent future crimes. Bawa said the workshop would allow investigators to coordinate and collaborate with other law enforcement agencies with evidence from the financial sector to identify victims, associates and institutions that may be complicated in the crime.
NAPTIP Director-General, Basheer Mohammed said the training was appropriate given the billions of dollars generated by exploitation and human trafficking, “the second largest criminal activity in the world after drug trafficking”.
Mohammed said NAPTIP would establish a financial investigation unit that would be domiciled within the Investigations Department to ensure that the proceeds of human trafficking are found and confiscated for the benefit of the federal government.
He added that “NAPTIP, as the country’s focal agency in the fight against human trafficking, will continue to partner with the EFCC to ensure that the proceeds and assets of human trafficking are subject to investigation, traceability and confiscation ”.
NIS Comptroller General (CG) Muhammed Babandede said the ratification and domestication of the Palermo Protocols contained irregular migration and related cross-border crimes between Nigeria and most transit and host countries.
He said that “TIPSOM are organized criminal activities that violate the human rights of victims, cause lasting psychological damage, generate significant profits for criminal groups and harm national security and economic interests.”
Babandede, who was represented by Ngozi Akalonu, Migration Directorate, commended the FIIAPP for their support in the fight against human trafficking and smuggling of migrants.
He therefore instructed the participants to use the skills acquired during the training to locate and recover the assets and other products of TPSOM in Nigeria or abroad.
Joséphine Ogechi, Police Commissioner, Anti-Trafficking Unit, Force CID, underlined the need for synergy to combat human trafficking and smuggling of migrants in the country.
FIIAPP Nigeria project team leader Rafael Molina said the training aimed to build the capacity of investigators in tracking the financial assets of smugglers and traffickers.
Molina, who was represented by Jospeh Sanwo, the senior project officer, said that “it is our task to support the federal government through these agencies to have effective and efficient means of tracking the ill-gotten wealth of traffickers and smugglers