Abuja - The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved a draft Bill recommending among others, a minimum jail term of five years to seven years for human traffickers.
Minister of Information Labaran Maku disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of the Council meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan at the State House.
Labaran said the bill was presented by the Federal Ministry of Justice and the Council, and that after deliberation, FEC approved its transmission to the National Assembly for passage into law.
``As you do know, human trafficking has become a major issue for Nigeria and in recent years our country’s rating in this area has been deteriorating because the existing legislation has not been very consistent with international law.
``Also, the country need not only to ensure that we have a comprehensive law that deals with every aspect of human trafficking, but also that will deal with those who collaborate.
``The bill also deals with various crimes committed under the heinous forceful exploitation of our young ones abroad, most of whom are abused sexually, while some work as slaves in plantation for families and some get their organs forcefully removed,’’ he said.
Maku said that the fines contained in the new bill range from five years to seven years imprisonment ``for people who engage in human trafficking or collaborate with human traffickers’’.
``For various crimes that are visited on victims, we also have specific provisions in the draft bill to deal with them. Some of these offences carry years of imprisonment and fines.
``It is our belief that if this legislation is passed into law, it will adequately address the question of human trafficking, which has become a national concern to the citizens of Nigeria and one of those tarnishing our image abroad,’’ he said.
The minister said the council also approved the ratification of the World Trade Organisation’s Amended Protocol on Intellectual Property.
He said that Dr Olusegun Aganga, the Minister of Trade and Investment, briefed the council on the need for the country to ratify the Amended Protocol in order to be able to deal with national emergencies and health related issues.
Maku also said that FEC received the report of the performances of the Ministries of Defence and Education in 2012.
He said the Council was impressed by the strides recorded by the Armed Forces in the areas of improved capacity and successes recorded in internal security.
Maku said FEC recommended that the states needed to do more to improve on the quality of education in the country in order to prevent failures in general examinations.
``Council observed that the state governments must be more responsive in the area of failures in examinations and the need for additional responsibilities from states in terms of standard and equipments,’’ he said.
The Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Mr Edem Duke, who was at the briefing, refuted media report that N300 billion appropriated for the hospitality and leisure sub-sector 2012 was diverted by the ministry.
Duke said the claim as reported in the media was incorrect and misleading.
Speaking in the same vein, the Minister of State for Finance, Yerima Ngama, said that there was no appropriation for the sub-sector in the 2012 budget and that government had no intervention plan for it.
Ngama confirmed that the 2013 Appropriation Bill had been forwarded to the President by the National Assembly.
He said the Presidency was still studying it and that it would soon be assented to by the President.