The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) says it has rescued 100 children and apprehended 120 suspected traffickers within six months in Akwa Ibom.

Mr. Ubong Ekwere, Uyo Zonal Commander of NAPTIP, disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in an interview in Uyo on Friday.

Ekwere was giving updates on the activities of the command since he took charge six months ago.

He said the trend of human trafficking in the state had changed, warning parents and guardians to be more vigilant about whereabouts of their children at any point in time.

“We have done remarkably well, because I resumed duty on May 17, as the Uyo Zonal Commander from then, we have hit the ground running and up till this time we have arrested 120 suspected human traffickers.

“Between then and now, 120 suspects have passed through our detention centre.

“The number of children rescued during this period of reporting is 100 and taken to our shelter, we have successfully reunited 88 of them with their families; only few of them are still in our shelter now.

“There is a new trend of human trafficking now, that is why I am calling on all stakeholders to join hands and collaborate with NAPTIP by supporting our operations because of this new trend of selling and buying of babies.

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“If all hands are not on deck to fight this menace, children of this zone would all be sold out. The crime is very alarming and worrisome.

“The most sympathetic one was the one where two children from the same parent were stolen and sold to a woman at Itam in Itu Local Government Area. The first and second daughters of one parent were stolen.

“The woman in Itam took the children to Anambra and sold them out. The buyer in Anambra now sold them to someone in Lagos and Abuja. We’ve rescued the two children and reunited them with their parent,’’ Ekwere said.

Ekwere disclosed that during the period, the command charged 21 of the suspects to court, with some of the cases still pending in courts.

He added that within the period, the command secured one conviction, stressing that the low number of conviction was due to COVID-19.

According to him, the Federal Government could not fight the menace of human trafficking only but with the collaboration of all stakeholders.

“We appeal to members of the public that this fight on human trafficking should not be left on the hands of NAPTIP and Federal Government alone.

“The agency needs the support and cooperation of all stakeholders, so that together we can fight this menace of human trafficking,” he said.

Ekwere also appealed to the state government to include NAPTIP in the state security meeting to enhance information sharing, especially information concerning human trafficking in the state.

“NAPTIP as a paramilitary agency should be included in the state security council meeting.

“So that issues of human trafficking could be discussed at the security meeting and this will enhance information sharing among the security agencies and strengthen synergy to fight this crime.

“The state government could also help us in the area of logistics by providing the agency with operational vehicles to cover all the 31 local government areas effectively.

“The Federal Government cannot do it alone; we must join hands together to protect our children. The fight against human trafficking requires collaborative efforts,” Ekwere said.

He said that the agency would continue to sensitise the people on the dangers associated with human trafficking, advising traffickers to desist from the act or face the full wrath of the law. (NAN)