Trafficking: NAPTIP, Meta launch AMBER alert device to enhance investigation, rescue efforts

NAPTIP D-G, Dr Fatima Waziri-Azi (Middle), and officials of Meta, a US technology company at the launching of Amber alert in Abuja on Wednesday

THE National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has launched an AMBER Alert device to assist in the fight against human trafficking, enhance investigation and rescue effort.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the launch of the device on Wednesday in Abuja was with the collaboration of Meta, an American multinational technology conglomerate company.

NAN also reports that the AMBER Alert device is also designed to carry citizens along in terms of information sharing on Facebook and Instagram whenever there is a case of missing child.

The device is empowered to make searches of any missing child in any designated areas and to help to locate the whereabout of the missing child.

In a welcome address, the  NAPTIP Director of Intelligence and Public Enlightenment, Mr Josiah Emerole, noted that cases of missing child had been on the increase recently in Nigeria.

He said that the Amber Alert would enable the agency to further engage in its counter trafficking efforts with special emphasis on issues of missing children.

“What we are doing today is therefore, to further the agency’s resolve to be more pro-active in its operations and in line with its mandate as enshrined in the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act 2015.

“The launch of this Amber Alert in Nigeria today will no doubt change the narrative in the search and rescue of children who stray and cannot find their way back home; and those stolen or abducted for various purposes, including trafficking,” Emerole said.

Mrs Adaora Ikenze, Head of Public Policy, Anglophone West Africa, Meta, appreciated the collaboration of her organisaion with NAPTIP, adding that the company had deployed Amber alert globally to keep community safe.

She said the company had contributed to solving the challenges around the search and recovery of missing children, adding that keeping the community safe means everything to them at Meta.

According to her, when a child is missing, the most important thing for the company is to get detailed information about the incident out to the public as quickly as possible, and that is why it is partnering NAPTIP.

She said that the true value of technology lies in its ability to drive  solutions for real world issues and harnessing its to be able to communicate and disseminate information faster, and provides solution for the challenges.

Emily Vacher, Meta Director of Trust and Safety stated that the device was already available in 28 countries of the world, adding that Nigeria is the second African country to join the programme.

She said that once NAPTIP alerted Meta, about the case of any missing child, Amber alert will help to disseminate the information to other law enforcement agencies who will also assist in sharing the information and assist in the search.

“By working with law enforcement in helping to share the right information with the right people, we hope that missing children will be safely reunited with their families faster,” she stressed.

Dr Fatima Waziri-Azi, NAPTIP’s Director-General, stated that the journey to the launch of the Amber alert all started in 2020 when the agency was first initiated with the idea.

She said that Amber alert device was aimed at assisting in locating abducted children by sending alerts to the News Feeds of people located in the targeted search areas in Nigeria.

“A child being abducted is a parent’s worst nightmare, and we all know that swift and collective response to abduction cases is key in finding missing children.

“With these alerts, communities will instantly be galvanized to assist in the search for and safe recovery of a missing child.

“However, for us in Nigeria, it runs deeper than that, which is why we are particularly excited about this innovative partnership with Meta.

“We believe that this will also impact our investigative and rescue efforts. In the past year, NAPTIP has recovered 13 abducted children, out of which 12 were reunited with their parents.

“We still have one victim, a two-year-old I believe, still at our shelter. We are yet to locate his family.This past March, a three-year-old was abducted from a village in Benue State. His abductors were apprehended in the process of selling the boy.

“The child and perpetrators were handed over to NAPTIP. We are currently prosecuting a woman who operated a fake orphanage for years. She went around abducting and selling children,” Waziri-Azi said. (NAN)

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