At a time the crusade against child trafficking is supposed to be intensified, given the poor rating of Nigeria in the international circle, the controversy over who ordered the release of some rescued 267 children as well as those suspected to be trading with them, has cast a shadow over government’s sincerity in tackling the incident.
Many stakeholders have questioned government’s sincerity since the traffickers were released when they were supposed to be arraigned.
But the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has absolved itself from blame in the release of the victims and their traffickers who were apprehended at various times by the Joint Task Force of the Kogi State Army Command on July 28.
According to the agency’ spokesman, Mr. Orakwue Arinze, the children, their traffickers and the 13 vehicles which they were traveling in were reportedly released on the orders of Kogi State Deputy Governor, Mr. Yomi Awoniyi, on humanitarian grounds.
The agency said this is in response to statements credited to the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) in charge of operations in Kogi, claiming that the agency failed to heed its invitation to take possession of the victims and suspects, and it had therefore approached Awoniyi for directive.
This allegation has given rise to speculations that the agency may have connived with influential Nigerians to release the victims and suspects so as to ensure that their sponsors do not face prosecution.
Arinze, who is Assistant Director of Press and Public Relations of the agency, briefed journalists in Abuja yesterday and presented what he called facts of the matter.
According to him, the agency received news of the interception on July 2 and immediately contacted the Kogi State DCP, Operations to take over the victims and the suspects into custody. He added that the DCP expressed concern at the challenge of logistics being faced by the command to take care of such a huge number of people.