ABUJA – Wife of former Vice President, Titilayo Abubakar, has said nearly 11,600 victims of human trafficking and child labour have been rescued, rehabilitated and empowered through Women Trafficking and Child Labour Eradication Foundation (WOTCLEF), an initiative she founded in 1999.
Mrs Abubakar, who stated this in Abuja at an event to mark WOTCLEF’s 20th anniversary, said the organisation has remained at the forefront of the fight against trafficking in persons in Nigeria in spite of daunting challenges.
According to the ex-VP’s wife, she was moved to start an advocacy to end forced prostitution and other forms of human trafficking in the country after observing many Nigerian girls in the 1980’s were lured into the menace in Italy with fake job promises.
Mrs Abubakar said, consequently, she entered into a covenant with God to fight the societal ill, if opportuned to serve in high office.
She added, “My dream to rescue and empower those girls who were trafficked abroad for forced prostitution and other inhuman treatments became reality in 1999 when my husband became Vice President, and we have come a long way in welcoming and rehabilitating girls repatriated from different countries.
“Since I started WOTCLEF in October 1999, we have rescued, rehabilitated and empowered over 11,600 children and women.
“Many of them have returned to school while others have become successful and are themselves empowering others.”
Titi Abubakar expressed delight with Nigeria’s progress in tackling the menace through the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), an organisation she also championed its establishment via an a private bill she presented before the National Assembly in 2003.
Speaking also, the Director-General of NAPTIP, Julie Okah-Donli, attributed the drop in the prevalence of human trafficking in the country from double digits to single digit to the increase in awareness by the agency and other stakeholders.
She, however, said NAPTIP is not resting on its oars; adding that the agency is working to infuse human trafficking in the educational curriculum of primary and secondary schools so as to drive the campaign to the leaders of tomorrow.
On her part, the Executive Director of WOTCLEF, Mrs. Imaobong Sanusi, the organisation in addition to operating shelter points for victims across the six geopolitical zones, the organisation has commissioned trauma and vocational training centres in Abuja to deal with their economic and psychosocial needs.