Nigeria is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Trafficked Nigerians are recruited from rural and, to a lesser extent, urban areas within the country; women and girls for domestic servitude and sex trafficking, and boys for forced labor in street vending, domestic service, mining, stone quarrying, agriculture, and begging. Nigerian women and children are taken from Nigeria to other West and Central African countries, as well as to South Africa, where they are exploited for the same purposes. Children from West African countries – primarily Benin, Ghana, and Togo – are forced to work in Nigeria, and many are subjected to hazardous labor in Nigeria’s granite mines. Nigerian women and girls – primarily from Benin City in Edo State – are subjected to forced prostitution in Italy, while Nigerian women and girls from other states are subjected to forced prostitution in Spain, Scotland, the Netherlands, Germany, Turkey, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Ireland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Greece, and Russia. Nigerian women and children are also recruited and transported to destinations in North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia, where they are held captive in the sex trade or in forced labor. Nigerian women are trafficked to Malaysia, where they are forced into prostitution and to work as drug mules for their traffickers. Nigerian traffickers rely on threats of voodoo curses to control Nigerian victims and force them into situations of prostitution or labor. Nigerian gangs traffic large numbers of Nigerian women into forced prostitution in the Czech Republic and Italy, and the European Police Organization (EUROPOL) has identified Nigerian organized crime related to trafficking in persons as one of the largest law enforcement challenges to European governments.
The Government of Nigeria does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, but is making significant efforts to do so. During the reporting period, the government demonstrated a modest increase in anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts through the conviction of 25 traffickers and the provision of specialized anti-trafficking training to officials by various government ministries and agencies. The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and Other Related Matters (NAPTIP) received a slight increase in funding in 2012. Despite these efforts, the government has yet to pass draft legislation that would restrict the ability of judges to offer fines in lieu of prison time during sentencing and the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) continued to experience difficulty identifying trafficking victims. The Ministry of Labor did not make any new efforts to address labor trafficking during the reporting period.
Recommendations for Nigeria: Ensure that the activities of NAPTIP receive sufficient funding, particularly for prosecuting trafficking offenders and providing adequate care for victims; vigorously pursue trafficking investigations and prosecutions of trafficking offenses, and impose adequate sentences on convicted trafficking offenders, including imprisonment whenever appropriate; take proactive measures to investigate and prosecute government officials suspected of trafficking-related corruption and complicity in trafficking offenses; train police and immigration officials to identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as women in prostitution and young females traveling with non-family members; fully integrate counter-trafficking responsibilities into the work of the NPF and the Ministry of Labor; develop a formal system to track the number of victims repatriated from abroad, and upon repatriation ensure they are aware of available protective services; and ensure NAPTIP productively interacts with and receives support from other government agencies that have a stake in addressing human trafficking.
The Government of Nigeria demonstrated modest progress in its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the year. The 2003 Trafficking in Persons Law Enforcement and Administration Act, amended in 2005 to increase the penalties for trafficking offenders, prohibits all forms of human trafficking. The law prescribes penalties of five years’ imprisonment or a fine not to exceed the equivalent of approximately $645 or both for labor trafficking offenses; these are sufficiently stringent, but the law allows convicted offenders to pay a fine in lieu of prison time for labor trafficking or attempted trafficking offenses, resulting in penalties not proportionate to the crimes committed. The law prescribes penalties of 10 to 15 years’ imprisonment for sex trafficking offenses and a fine of the equivalent of approximately $1,250, or both. For sentences that include only a fine, penalties are not sufficiently stringent. In 2011, NAPTIP introduced amendments to the anti-trafficking law, which would give prosecutors more authority and restrict the ability of judges to offer fines in lieu of prison time during sentencing; this amendment was awaiting approval by the National Assembly at the end of the reporting period.
The government reported that NAPTIP initiated 117 trafficking investigations, commenced at least 17 prosecutions, and achieved 25 convictions during the reporting period. Another 143 prosecutions remained pending at the end of 2012. There was a significant decrease in the number of investigations from the previous reporting period’s 279 investigations, but this is likely due to the fact that law enforcement officials are now better trained to identify trafficking cases and are not mistakenly referring numerous non-trafficking crimes to NAPTIP for investigation. All prosecutions occurred under the 2003 Trafficking Act, and sentences upon conviction ranged from three months’ to 18 years’ imprisonment. Of the 25 convictions, 17 resulted in prison sentences without the option of paying a fine. The NPF reportedly also investigated and prosecuted human trafficking offenses; data regarding these cases was unavailable. The government also collaborated with law enforcement agencies from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Austria, and Taiwan on investigations involving Nigerian nationals during the reporting period. Three of the pending prosecutions involve government officials alleged to have committed child labor trafficking offences.
The government conducted extensive training sessions throughout the reporting period. NAPTIP, collaborating with foreign governments and international organizations, provided specialized training to approximately 465 government actors, including officials from NAPTIP, the Nigerian Police Force, the Nigerian Immigration Service, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, the Department of State Services, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as judges, prosecutors, and border patrol officers. These programs focused on border control procedures, obtaining and processing digital evidence, identification and investigation of trafficking cases, criminal intelligence, gender-based violence, prosecution of trafficking crimes, counseling of victims, and migration policy. Despite these efforts, however, high levels of training remained difficult to maintain, as police officers within the NPF were frequently rotated to different positions and many never receive anti-trafficking training.
The Government of Nigeria made slightly increased efforts to protect trafficking victims during the year. The government and NGOs identified 480 trafficking victims within the country, including 303 victims of sex trafficking and 177 victims of labor trafficking. Another 92 individuals were identified as victims of trafficking-related crimes. All victims identified by NAPTIP received initial screening and assistance by NAPTIP, after which 250 victims were referred to government-run care facilities for further medical care, vocational training, education, and shelter. In 2012, the Government of Nigeria allocated the equivalent of approximately $11.9 million to NAPTIP, a slight increase from the 2011 budget, and an additional equivalent of approximately $160,000 to help evacuate Nigerian victims of trafficking who were stranded in Cote d’Ivoire. State governments also contributed the equivalent of approximately $15,900 in additional funds to support NAPTIP efforts during the reporting period.
In 2012, NAPTIP continued to operate eight shelters with a total capacity of 293 victims, an increase in capacity from 2011. Through these shelters, NAPTIP provided access to legal, medical, and psychological services, as well as vocational training, trade and financial empowerment, and business management skills. Victims who required additional medical and psychological treatment were provided services by hospitals and clinics through existing agreements with NAPTIP. While all shelter staff received basic training in victim care, NAPTIP funded additional specialized training for 50 counselors during the reporting period that was conducted by a local university and UNODC. The NAPTIP shelters offered short-term care, generally limiting victims’ stays to six weeks, though victims were allowed to extend their stays under special circumstances. If victims needed longer-term care, they could be referred to two shelters operated by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in Kano and Benin City; during the reporting period, NAPTIP referred 20 victims to these two shelters. Additionally, NAPTIP collaborated with NGO-run shelters, which also provided longer-term care. Victims in NAPTIP shelters were not allowed to leave unless accompanied by a chaperone. NAPTIP paid a monthly stipend of the equivalent of approximately $2,900 to a local NGO-run shelter and provided limited funding, in-kind donations, and services to NGOs and other organizations that afforded protective services to trafficking victims. On occasion, state and local governments also provided in-kind assistance through training and technical support to NGOs. Overall, NAPTIP spent roughly one-fifth of its operational budget, or the equivalent of approximately $666,000, on victim protection and assistance during 2012.
The government has formal written procedures to guide law enforcement, immigration, and social services personnel in proactive identification of victims of trafficking among high-risk populations. Additionally, police, immigration, and social services personnel received specialized training on how to identify victims of trafficking and direct them to NAPTIP. Although NAPTIP has yet to establish an official national referral mechanism, authorities continued to utilize an informal referral process whereby the police, immigration, and NGOs could transport suspected victims to NAPTIP. Additionally, in May 2012, NAPTIP signed a memorandum of understanding with the Network of Civil Society Organizations Against Child Trafficking, whose membership includes the vast majority of anti-trafficking NGOs and international organizations working on the issue within Nigeria. Despite the growing number of Nigerian trafficking victims identified abroad, the government has yet to implement formal procedures for the return and reintegration of Nigerian victims; consequently, many victims are not afforded adequate care upon their return to Nigeria. This is of particular concern, as some European countries deny Nigerian victims’ attempts to seek asylum or access to European victim programs on the basis of the perceived availability of adequate victim services in Nigeria.
Per provisions of the 2003 Trafficking in Persons Law Enforcement and Administration Act, Nigerian authorities ensured that trafficking victims were not penalized for unlawful acts committed as a result of their being trafficked. On occasion, authorities initially detained individuals involved in prostitution or other unlawful acts before they were identified as trafficking victims. Once identified, NAPTIP worked with security services to remove victims from custody and provide them care. Officials encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases, and NAPTIP reported that 26 victims served as witnesses or gave evidence during trial in 2012. All victims were eligible to receive funds from the victims’ trust fund, which was financed primarily through confiscated assets of convicted traffickers. During the reporting period the equivalent of approximately $22,000 was disbursed to 10 victims for purposes ranging from medical costs to school tuition, although not necessarily in equal amounts. The government provided a limited legal alternative – short term-residency that could not be extended – to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution.
The Government of Nigeria sustained modest efforts to prevent human trafficking through campaigns to raise awareness and educate the public about the dangers of trafficking. NAPTIP’s Public Enlightenment Unit continued to conduct extensive national and local programming through radio and print media in all regions of the country to raise awareness about trafficking, including warning about fraudulent recruitment for jobs abroad. The objective of these and several related programs was to sensitize vulnerable people, sharpen public awareness of trends and schemes traffickers use to lure victims, warn parents, and encourage community members to participate in efforts to prevent trafficking. NAPTIP also carried out advocacy visits with community leaders, opinion leaders, traditional and religious leaders, and government officials at both the local and national levels. Each of NAPTIP’s six zonal offices also completed their own awareness and education campaigns, including constructing outdoor billboards throughout the country.
During the reporting period, the Government of Nigeria demonstrated a commitment to increased coordination between NAPTIP and various relevant ministries, primarily through improved referral mechanisms and training efforts. NAPTIP also developed a new five-year strategic plan on the coordination of anti-trafficking efforts for 2012-2017 and held stakeholders’ workshops to begin implementation of the plan. The Ministry of Labor took no additional steps to address labor trafficking nor to decrease the demand for forced labor. In an attempt to reduce the demand for commercial sex in Abuja, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory declared that soliciting prostitution is illegal; the government made no other discernible efforts to decrease the demand for commercial sex acts. NAPTIP officials assisted other West African governments with their anti-trafficking efforts, including providing training to officials employed by The Gambia’s recently established National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons from May 29-June 4, 2012. The government, with foreign donor support, provided anti-trafficking training to Nigerian troops prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions.