The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has disclosed that the state government will henceforth go after assets and property of traffickers of indigenes of the State.
He said the proceeds from such property of convicted traffickers would be ploughed into the rehabilitation and reintegration of returnees.
The governor said this over the weekend in Benin on the occasion of world day against trafficking in persons.
He said the state government is collaborating with the judiciary and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) to ensure the conviction of traffickers.
According to him, convicting the perpetrators and liquidating their assets would serve as a deterrent to others who are still scouting for vulnerable Nigerians to traffic.
Obaseki said the State had been hindered in the past by delays in prosecution, saying it had recruited competent prosecutors but long adjournments and handling of victims’ testimonies were delaying its move to get convictions.
Obaseki said, “We have been able to intensify investigation and prosecution. But unfortunately, we have not been able to get any conviction.
“Not because the prosecutors are not doing their utmost best, but because of the very nature of our legal system.”
He said they were working very hard with the High Courts and NAPTIP to ensure convictions as it would serve as a deterrent and punishment to the perpetrators.
He added, “We will work with the judiciary to try and reduce the long adjournments and also the way they treat evidence from victims.
“Many of these victims are afraid of revealing information about their traffickers because of threats, but we are taking measures to provide safe houses and cover for them until we are able to get prosecutions.”
He however said in the last four years under his watch, the number of trafficked persons from the State had reduced with the rehabilitation and reintegration of over 6,500 returnees.