The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), has said it has found thousands of missing girls and women in southern Mali, many of whom were sold as sex slaves. NAPTIP was created on July 14, 2003 by the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act 2003 during the regime of President Olusegun Obasanjo. Speaking in an interview with an online news portal, Al Jazeera, which was monitored by Per Second News, NAPTIP Director, Mrs. Julie Okah-Donli, said: “They (victims) were tricked into going to Mali by giving them the impression they were going to get jobs in hotels, for example.” According to NAPTIP, there are between 20,000 and 45,000 kidnapped Nigerian women in Mali it intends to return to Nigeria. Speaking further, she claimed that the women mostly came from rural areas of six different states in Nigeria, adding that the situation was worrisome.

The NAPTIP Director added: “Some were actually abducted while going to school. There are over one million Nigerian residents in Mali, out of which about 20,000 are trapped into forced prostitution. “The conditions are horrible. They are kept in the thick of the forest where they cannot escape and with the ‘madames’ watching over them.” According to a 2018 report by the US State Department, human trafficking is a major problem in Nigeria. I have said it several times that NAPTIP will not spare anybody in its determination to redeem the image of Nigeria in the eyes of the world as a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking, Okah-Donli said. Nigerian victims of human trafficking were found in about 40 different countries, the report stated, adding: “Over 80 per cent of all female Nigerian migrants in Italy are or will become sex trafficking victims.” The United Nations has criticised Nigeria for failing to tackle human trafficking, after a human rights mission looked at efforts to stamp out the organised trade in people.