…To carry out investigative hearing on child trafficking***
The Senate on Wednesday urged the Federal Government through the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to prosecute pirates and armed bandits operating in the Gulf of Guinea and particularly, in Nigeria’s internal waters.
Senate in its resolution said the prosecution of the bandits was in accordance with the Anti -Piracy Act to serve as deterrent.
The call by senate was hinged on the adoption of a motion on urgent need to address the menace of piracy and banditry in the Gulf of Guinea and Nigeria’s internal waters.
The motion was sponsored by Sen. Eyakenyi, Etim (PDP Akwa-Ibom) and co-sponsored by 13 other senators.
Etim, while presenting the motion commended the Federal Government, the, Navy and Nigerian Maritime time and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for their fight for reduction of piracy and banditry activities in the Gulf of Guinea and Nigeria’s waters.
She said the report of International Maritime Bureau for Piracy and the United Nations had categorized the Gulf of Guinea as the most dangerous waters in the world.
She said in 2018, 57 of the 156 reported incidents of pirates and armed banditry occurred in the Gulf of Guinea and 41 of the incidents took place in Nigeria’s waters.
She said so far, 21 of the 78 reported incidents of the global menace happened in Nigeria in 2019.
She said the regional Maritime Security Institute had noted that 50 per cent or more of piracy and banditry attacks on the Gulf of Guinea are unreported.
“Due to the fight to reduce piracy and armed banditry in Nigeria’s international waters and the activities of the Navy in Bayelsa and Rivers, creeks, the pirates and armed bandits have been forced to now move further inward to terrorize local fishermen, traders and transporters in Oron coastal area of Nigeria.
“They are extorting money, stealing goods, snatching boats, raping women, girls, kidnapping for ransom, and taking the hostages to their camps in the creeks.”
She said despite the effort of the Navy, piracy and armed banditry was now common in Nigerian internal waters especially along the Oron coastal area making the waters perilous for fishermen, traders and transporters.
“The menace of the pirates and bandits who have made the creeks of Akwa lbom state their habitation has led to untold story of woes, hardship, kidnap and deaths among the fishing communities, traders and transporters.
“It has crippled the local economy of the area and led to further instability in the Niger Delta region”, she posited further, stressing that if the activities of the pirates and armed bandits continue, more lives would be lost and the tales of rape, deaths, goods and boats snatching, kidnapping would go on, reducing fellow Nigerians to hunted humans in their country.
She said it was disheartening that a large section of Nigerians, who depend on the waters for their livelihood are at the mercy of pirates and bandits.
She said the establishment of Maritime Police would go a long way in effectively policing piracy and armed banditry.
“Reminded that the right to life is a fundamental right and that every Nigerian is entitled to security and dignity of the human person,”she said.
Following her presentation, the senate in its resolution resolved to further urge NIMASA to quickly fast-track the implementation of the Deep Blue Sea project for the protection of Nigeria’s waters.
It said the implementation would go a long way in arresting the menace of the pirates and armed bandits.
It also urged the Federal Government to bring forward a bill on the Deep Blue Sea project for quick passage into law.
It said the bill would seek to integrate NIMASA, Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Police.
The senate also urged the Federal Government through the NAVY to deploy more naval personnel on the Oran coastal area to check the activities of the pirates and bandits.
In the meantime, the Senate also on Wednesday, mandated its Committees on Women Affairs and Youth Development as well as Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to conduct an investigative hearing on rising child trafficking in the country.
It also mandated the committees to proffer solutions to the issue of child trafficking and submit their reports within two weeks.
The Senate also urged all agencies responsible for curbing and eliminating child trafficking and trafficking in persons to be more effective in the discharge of their duties.
Presenting the motion at plenary, Barau said there was serious concern on trafficking of children across the country.
He said the trafficking was for purpose of forced adoption, domestic service and prostitution.
He said the act was becoming a widespread phenomenon adding that there were reported cases where children were kidnapped in the states of Gombe, FCT, Kano, among others.
He said there were reports that the children were sold to some willing buyers while some of the captives were forcefully adopted by the kidnappers in some part of the country.
He said some of the children had also been rescued by the security agencies and reunited with their parents.
Barau, however, said some of the children were still being held captive by kidnappers.
He said if the trend of kidnapping and trafficking was not nipped in the bud, it was capable of bringing about child slavery system in the country.
This, Barau said had the tendency of destroying the future generation and promote negatively the image of Nigeria within the committee of nations.
The Senate also considered the presentation of 11 bills for first reading at plenary.
The bills are the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Alteration Bill 2019 sponsored by Sen. Istifanus Fun (APC- Plateau) and Public Procurement Act 2007 Amendments Bill 2019 sponsored by Sen. Uche Ekwunife (PDP- Anambra).
Others are, South East Development Commission Establishment Bill 2019, sponsored by Sen. Stella Oduah (PDP- Anambra), Electronic Transaction Bill 2019, sponsored by Sen. Ibikunle Amosun (APC- Ogun) among others.