The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said the state government is collaborating with the judiciary and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), to ensure conviction of traffickers.
Obaseki said the state government plans to go after assets and properties of persons behind the trafficking of indigenes of the state, noting that proceeds from such properties would be ploughed into the rehabilitation and reintegration of returnees.
According to him, convicting the perpetrators and liquidating their assets will serve as a deterrent to others who are still scouting for vulnerable Nigerians to traffic.
He said that the state had been hindered in the past by delays in prosecution, adding that whereas the government had recruited competent prosecutors, judicial processes, long adjournments and handling of victims’ testimonies were delaying its move to get convictions.
He noted: “We have been able to intensify investigation and prosecution. But unfortunately, we have not been able to get any conviction. Not because the prosecutors are not doing their utmost best, but because of the very nature of our legal system.
“We are working very hard with the High Courts and NAPTIP to ensure that we get convictions. This can serve as a deterrent and punishment to the perpetrators, ensuring that they lose their property and assets with which we will now use in supporting the rehabilitation of victims.
Obaseki added: “We will work with the judiciary to try and reduce the long adjournments and also the way they treat evidence from victims. Many of these victims are afraid of revealing information on their traffickers because of threats, but we are taking measures to provide safe houses and cover for them until we are able to get prosecutions.”
He explained that in the last four years under his watch, the number of persons trafficked from the state had reduced with the rehabilitation and reintegration of over 6,500 returnees.