The Nigerian government has begun investigation into a PREMIUM TIMES' exclusive investigative story detailing the workings of a ruthless human trafficking mafia in the country.
At a meeting with the newspaper's editors and lawyer in Lagos, Thursday, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and other Related Matters, NAPTIP, said it would collaborate with PREMIUM TIMES and other relevant agencies to bring the culprits to book.
"We have a responsibility to make sure that the reporter is safe. We also need to commence investigation to bring the syndicate to book," Arinze Orakwue, NAPTIP's head of media and publicity, said.
"Further delay might hamper law enforcement efforts," he added.
The report of the four-month long investigation by Tobore Ovuorie, Senior Investigative Reporter, PREMIUM TIMES, shocked the world with Nigerians prevailing on law enforcement agents to swing into action.
Mr. Orakwue said that NAPTIP had also been receiving pressures from their foreign partners to go after the human trafficking syndicate mentioned in the report.
All the foreign partners of NAPTIP around the world , especially the EU (European Union,) have also been pestering it and asking for official response to the groundbreaking report, Mr. Orakwue added.
NAPTIP rescued 232 victims of human trafficking in 2013 alone, while 101 cases are still pending in various courts across the country.
"Nigerian Trafficking Index might be affected if nothing is done about the matters that have been raised in the report," said Terna Tsumba, Assistant Director of Intelligence, NAPTIP.
"No person, no matter how highly placed will be spared if found culpable," he promised.
Joseph Famakin, Lagos Zonal Commander, NAPTIP, called for a partnership between the agency and the media and civil societies, and urged PREMIUM TIMES to partner with the agency on the matter.
"The story highlights man's inhumanity to man," Mr. Famakin said.
Also in attendance at the meeting were Ms. Ovuorie; Jiti Ogunye, PREMIUM TIMES' lawyer; Olabode Ogunbiyi, Senior Intelligence Officer, NAPTIP; Victoria Patrick, Intelligence Officer, NAPTIP; and Akeem Bello, Senior Intelligence Officer, NAPTIP.
In his response, Musikilu Mojeed, Managing Editor, PREMIUM TIMES, said that the organization was impressed by NAPTIP's desire to go after the syndicate and would cooperate with the agency as long as they are sincere and would not jeopardise the safety of the newspaper's reporters.
"PREMIUM TIMES journalists are powered by a desire for a society where the basic rights of citizens are respected and protected, and we are always willing to partner with organisations working along this line," Mr. Mojeed said.
"So we are happy to cooperate fully with you as you work towards tracking down the syndicate and ultimately eradicating human trafficking from our country," he added.