[ Country-by-Country Reports ]

NIGERIA (TIER 1)   [Extracted from U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2009]

Nigeria is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Within Nigeria, women and girls are trafficked primarily for domestic servitude and commercial sexual exploitation. Boys are trafficked for forced labor in street vending, agriculture, mining, stone quarries, and as domestic servants. Religious teachers also traffic boys, called almajiri, for forced begging. Women, girls, and boys are trafficked from Nigeria to other West and Central African countries, primarily Gabon, Cameroon, Ghana, Chad, Benin, Togo, Niger, Burkina Faso, and The Gambia, for the same purposes listed above. Benin is a primary source country for boys and girls trafficked for forced labor in Nigeria’s granite quarries. Nigerian women and girls are trafficked through Libya, Morocco, and Algeria to Europe, primarily for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation, and to the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia, for forced prostitution and forced labor. While Italy is the primary European destination country for Nigerian victims, other common destinations are Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, France, and Greece. Children from Nigeria and other African countries are trafficked from Lagos to the UK’s urban centers for domestic servitude and forced labor in restaurants and shops.

The Government of Nigeria fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Over the last year, the government more than doubled the number of trafficking offenders convicted, while it improved assistance given to victims, demonstrated strong awareness-raising efforts, and increased funding to its anti-human trafficking organization, the National Agency for the Prohibtion of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP). Nigeria’s strengthened anti-trafficking record over the last year reflects the cumulative impact of progressively increasing efforts made by NAPTIP over the last several years.

Recommendations for Nigeria: Continue strong efforts to prosecute and convict trafficking offenders; reconsider the practice of interrogating suspected traffickers in Lagos in the same building where trafficking victims are sheltered; and ensure that victims’ rights are respected and that they are not detained involuntarily in shelters.

The Government of Nigeria demonstrated increased law enforcement efforts to combat trafficking during the last year. Nigeria prohibits all forms of trafficking through its 2003 Trafficking in Persons Law Enforcement and Administration Act, which was amended in 2005 to increase penalties for traffickers. This law’s prescribed penalties of five years’ imprisonment for labor trafficking, 10 years’ imprisonment for trafficking of children for forced begging or hawking, and a maximum of life imprisonment for sex trafficking are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other grave crimes, such as rape. Nigeria’s 2003 Child Rights Act also criminalizes child trafficking, though only 20 of the country’s 36 states have enacted it.

During the year, NAPTIP reported that it investigated 209 trafficking cases, 37 of which were prosecuted, resulting in the conviction of 19 sex traffickers and four labor traffickers. Sentences imposed on convicted traffickers ranged from six months to 40 years’ imprisonment. One sex trafficking offender received a sentence of 40 years’ imprisonment, two received sentences of 24 years’ imprisonment, and others received two-, five-, and seven-year sentences. Six sex traffickers received sentences of one year’s imprisonment or less. While one labor trafficker was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment, one was sentenced to one year imprisonment and two were given the option of serving one to two years in prison or paying fines of between $65 and $600. Over the year, the government provided anti-trafficking training for 823 law enforcement officials and integrated a trafficking training course in the National Police Force’s standard curriculum. For several months in 2008, NAPTIP cooperated with European law enforcement counterparts in Operation Koovis. This resulted in the arrest of 60 Nigerian trafficking suspects in Europe, where they will be prosecuted.

Nigeria intensified its efforts to protect trafficking victims during the last year. NAPTIP continued to operate seven shelters in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Sokoto, Enugu, Uyo and Benin City. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs operates two additional shelters, one in Kano and one in Akwa Ibom. The government collaborated with NGOs and international organizations to provide victims with care. NAPTIP continued to provide care to victims with HIV/AIDS through agreements with hospitals whereby the government pays portions of this care and hospitals agree to provide care at lower cost or sometimes for free. The government reported that between October 2007 and September 2008 it identified 887 trafficking victims, of whom NAPTIP rescued 291, the Immigration Service rescued 215, the Nigerian Police intercepted 304, the Civil Defense Corps intercepted 56, the Federal Road Safety rescued 18, the State Security Service intercepted two, and a Nigerian Embassy rescued one. NAPTIP reported that from February 2008 to February 2009 932 victims -- 387 of whom were children -- received care at its seven shelters. The agency’s largest shelter in Lagos, with a capacity for 120 victims, housed an average of 35 to 40 victims at any given period during the year. This shelter offers victims vocational training and has 12 full-time counselors trained to treat trauma. NAPTIP detains suspected traffickers for questioning in the same building containing the Lagos shelter, a practice that threatened to jeopardize the safety of victims and contribute to their psychological distress. The government also reported that some of its shelters lack adequate vocational training facilities. NAPTIP repatriated 45 victims back to Nigeria with some assistance from IOM and repatriated 54 foreign victims back to their African countries of origin. In August 2008, NAPTIP launched the Victims’ Trust Fund, which accepts donations to provide restitution to victims on a case-by-case basis. In November 2008, Nigeria approved a National Policy on Protection and Assistance to Trafficked Persons to increase protection and rehabilitation efforts, though implementation has not begun. The government also operated hotlines for assistance to victims in each of NAPTIP’s zonal areas. The government encouraged victims to participate in investigations and prosecutions of trafficking crimes, as victim testimony is usually required to prosecute traffickers. Because cases take so long to go to trial, victims often returned to their home communities before they could give testimony in court.

Nigeria provided a limited legal alternative to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they face hardship or retribution – short-term residency that cannot be extended. The government also placed foreign victims in shelters under guard until they were repatriated. Although there were no reports of victims inappropriately incarcerated, fined, or penalized for unlawful acts committed as a result of being trafficked, police and immigration officers did not always follow procedures to identify trafficking victims among females arrested for prostitution. While NAPTIP investigators follow formal procedures to identify sex trafficking victims, such procedures have not been formalized within the National Police Force or the National Immigration Service. In March 2009, NAPTIP dismissed two officers for attempting to extort bribes from trafficking victims during investigations.

The Government of Nigeria demonstrated strong efforts to raise awareness about trafficking over the last year. In August 2008, on its five-year anniversary, NAPTIP organized the First Trafficking Awareness week, a series of anti-trafficking, awareness-raising events, including the launch of the “Red Card,” a leaflet distributed to the public with information on the human trafficking phenomenon, including hotline numbers. In November 2008, Nigeria and Benin hosted a four-day, anti-trafficking forum attended by representatives from Togo, Gabon, and Congo. During the year, NAPTIP provided guidance to counterparts in Ghana on establishing a similar anti-trafficking agency. In August 2008, Nigeria adopted a new National Plan of Action on Trafficking in Persons, though implementation has not yet begun. In 2008, the government provided NAPTIP with $9.3 million in funding, up from $7.2 million in 2007. NAPTIP hosted two national stakeholders’ forums during the year attended by government, NGO, and international organization representatives. Nigerian troops receive anti-trafficking awareness training through a donor-funded program before being deployed abroad as part of international peacekeeping missions. The Government took steps to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts within Nigeria by closing down two commercial establishments for trafficking activities in July 2008.