Our reporter

A powerful syndicate of human traffickers, rapists and other abusers of vulnerable people have mobilised and are carrying out series of attacks on the management and corporate image of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).

To achieve their aims, the syndicate is said to have put aside huge sums of money with which they are influencing petition writers and some so-called human rights activists to concoct frivolous and unsubstantiated allegations aimed at tarnishing the image of the management and corporate perception of the Agency as well as those of some honest and hardworking members of its staff, using a section of the media.

Some of the obviously wishy-washy petitions by faceless individuals are deliberately crafted to target the person and integrity of the Director General of the Agency, Dame Julie Okah – Donli.

Mostly of those petitions, that clearly left footprints of paid agents, are padded with beer palour gossips, innuendoes, unverified insinuations and hearsays.

One of such reports, which was recently published by an online medium with no recourse to the ethics of balanced reporting in line with global best practices in journalism, had as its main allegations an award of contracts for the renovation of the Abuja and Benin Shelters of the Agency which was for the upgrade of Agency’s Shelters for victims of Trafficking in persons and was for three locations namely FCT – Abuja, Lagos and Benin shelters and was awarded under the 2018 Appropriation Act. The total sum of money involved was about N49Million.

Our investigation revealed that the jobs were actually carried out in line with the global standard thereby transforming the facilities to modern structures.

There is also another petition bothering on a N100m appropriated for workshops under the 2017 Budget out of which only N59Million was released but the hired petitioner, clearly without proper briefing by his payers went wild banding N100Million on the pages of the petition. We also found out that the so called award was a capital project, which was awarded on the Framework for the Safe Return/Repatriation and Reintegration of Victims of Human Trafficking /Child Labour following due process to a consultant.

In the course of our inquest, it was discovered that although NAPTIP has some of the most committed, dedicated and patriotic workers you can find in any government establishment in the country, there are a few disgruntled elements who connive with distracters to spread rumours and deliberate falsehood against the organization.

Most of those in such habits are said to be angry with the Managing Director of the Agency, Dame Julie Okah-Donli for her strict insistence on discipline and that workers, especially enforcement officers, must be incorruptible at all times.

The Managing Director was also said to have attracted ‘enemies’ due to the series of reforms she has initiated in the system, some of which necessitated redeployment and transfers aimed at enhancing greater productivity.

We were told that a few of the officers openly resisted the postings and threatened to get back at the system.

We tried to speak on the renewed attacks with the Agency’s Head of Press and Public Relations Unit, Stella Nezan who said the organization was aware of such clandestine acts by some disgruntled elements, adding however that the attackers were wasting their time because they cannot succeed in their mission.

“We know they are raising false alarm with the aim of tarnishing the image of the Agency, especially the hard earned reputation of the Managing Director, Dame Julie Okah – Donli as well as distract her from her focus on ridding Nigeria of human traffickers as well as bringing them to book.

“But they have already failed in their track because they are dealing with a woman of iron will and uncompromising spirit who is determined to arrest and expose anybody found in that evil trade,” she said.

According to her- “The Agency, ordinarily would have ignored such baseless allegations, but because of the respect we have for our local and international partners, we feel it is necessary to put the record straight.”

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