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Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Nigeria

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 4 June 2008
Cite as United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Nigeria, 4 June 2008, available at: [accessed 14 April 2021]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

NIGERIA (Tier 2)

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 primarily trafficked for domestic servitude and sexual exploitation, and boys are trafficked for forced begging by religious teachers, as well as forced labor in street vending, agriculture, mining, stone quarries, and domestic servitude. Transnationally, women, girls, and boys are trafficked between Nigeria and other West and Central African countries, primarily Gabon, Cameroon, Benin, Niger, The Gambia and Ghana, 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 also trafficked to North Africa, Saudi Arabia, and Europe, most notably to Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Norway, and Greece. Nigeria's Edo state is a primary source area for woman and girls trafficked to Italy for sexual exploitation. In 2004, Nigeria's National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) reported that 46 percent of Nigerian victims of transnational trafficking are children, with the majority of them being girls trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation. An increasing trend, reported on widely in the last year by the United Kingdom (U.K.) and the international press, is the trafficking of African boys and girls from Lagos to the U.K.'s urban centers, including London, Birmingham and Manchester, for domestic servitude and forced labor in restaurants and shops. Some of the victims are Nigerian, while others are trafficked from other African countries through Lagos.

The Government of Nigeria does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Nigeria continued to demonstrate a solid commitment to eradicating trafficking. Although NAPTIP made solid efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking cases, the relative number of convicted traffickers remained low. While Nigeria assisted an increased number of victims, the quality of care provided was compromised by inadequate funding to shelters.

Recommendations for Nigeria: Increase efforts to prosecute and convict trafficking offenders; allocate increased funds to collecting evidence for trafficking prosecutions and to victim care at NAPTIP's shelters; increase trafficking training for judges; offer expanded legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they face danger or retribution; and improve trafficking and crime data collection mechanisms.


The Government of Nigeria continued to combat trafficking through modest law enforcement efforts 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, and its 2003 Child Rights Act. 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. During the last year, NAPTIP reported investigating 114 trafficking cases, 62 of which were prosecuted. Of the 62 cases, seven resulted in convictions and 51 are still pending in the court. Sentences imposed on convicted trafficking offenders ranged from one to 10 years' imprisonment. This law enforcement data, however, primarily reflects cases handled by NAPTIP's headquarters in Abuja. Trafficking data collected at the Agency's five other zonal offices are not systematically collected by NAPTIP's headquarters. Judicial effectiveness in punishing trafficking crimes is hampered by a lack of funding for thorough investigations and a lack of awareness of trafficking among judges, many of whom conflate trafficking with smuggling. Over the year, NAPTIP cooperated with law enforcement counterparts in Spain, Ireland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Norway, and Belgium to break up an international ring comprised of over 20 traffickers. During the year, the government extradited a man wanted to stand trial for trafficking a 14-year-old Nigerian girl to the United States. NAPTIP also collaborated with other African governments during the year on trafficking cases, most notably those of Benin, Togo, and Cameroon. The government trained 750 police, immigration, customs, and border security officials about trafficking during the reporting period. NAPTIP also provided anti-trafficking training to Nigerian embassy and consulate authorities posted in source countries. In addition, Nigeria contributed training materials and instructors to a donor-funded law enforcement antitrafficking training program.


The Nigerian government continued steady efforts to protect trafficking victims during the last year. NAPTIP continued to operate seven shelters throughout the country – in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Sokoto, Enugu, Uyo, and Benin City. However, due to inadequate funding, some shelters were not well-maintained, and they offered limited rehabilitation care and no reintegration services. Despite a documented significant trafficking problem in Nigeria, NAPTIP shelters were not well used. In January 2008, for example, the Lagos shelter, with a capacity for 120 victims, housed only 15 victims. The government refers victims to NGOs on an ad hoc basis, but employs no formal, systematic procedures for referring victims to service providers. NAPTIP has agreements with hospitals and clinics, however, to provide care to victims with HIV/AIDS. NAPTIP reported rescuing 800 victims, and providing assistance to 695. During the year Nigerian and Beninese authorities implemented the terms of their joint antitrafficking plan of action by repatriating 47 Beninese children found trafficked to some of Nigeria's stone quarries during the year. NAPTIP also collaborated with Togolese officials to repatriate two victims back to Togo. NAPTIP provided trainers and other personnel to assist a foreign donor to train 34 government counselors on strategies for caring for trafficking victims. NAPTIP encourages 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, however, victims have often returned to their home communities by the time their testimony is needed in court. Frequently, they are unwilling or unable to return to the court to testify. Victims also often refuse to testify due to fear of retribution. Nigeria provides 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 places foreign victims in shelters under guard until they are repatriated. Although there were no reports of victims inappropriately incarcerated, fined, or penalized for unlawful acts committed as a result of being trafficked, police do not always follow procedures to identify trafficking victims among females arrested for prostitution. The government is hesitant to conduct raids on brothels and typical raid tactics are not sensitive to trafficking victims.


The Government of Nigeria took some steps to raise awareness about trafficking during the reporting period. NAPTIP's public enlightenment division erected billboards and posters carrying anti-trafficking public awareness messages and hosted antitrafficking forums in villages. The government also aired anti-trafficking public service announcements. Recent reforms tightening immigration laws related to the issuance of passports are expected to yield a decrease in trafficking. Nigerian troops receive anti-trafficking awareness training through a donor-funded program before being deployed abroad as part of peacekeeping missions for ACOTA. A national anti-trafficking forum, established by NAPTIP in 2003, met regularly in each state as well as in the six regional zones. The government did not, however, take steps to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts within Nigeria.

Nigeria tier ranking by year

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