By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
Against the backdrop of proliferating baby factories in Nigeria and human trafficking, Senate yesterday resolved that the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) can search without court warrant, any apartment where it suspects that criminals and victims of human trafficking are kept.
Considering the report of its committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, which was submitted by Umaru Dahiru, the Senate upheld Clause (6b), which empowers NAPTIP to carry out such search without following the long process of obtaining search warrant from court.
This resolution was arrived at following an observation by Sadiq Yar’Adua, who suggested that any entry for search of human traffickers and victims by NAPTIP should be subject to obtaining search warrant from court, arguing that this will help to check abuses.
He said that Clause (6b), which gives NAPTIP the power to search people’s apartments without search warrant from court should be expunged from the Act, warning that it would be injurious to democracy if the National Assembly should give both executive and judicial powers to the same agency.
Based on this observation, there were efforts by other senators to get the Clause (6b) expunged from the NAPTIP Act, on the bases that it gives sweeping powers to the agency to invade any building for search without recourse to judicial process.
Majority of the senators however supported that it should be retained to make the work of the agency more effective.
Meanwhile, after the debate, when the question was put by the Senate President, David Mark, majority of the senators voted that the agency should be empowered to search apartments for human traffickers and their victims without search warrant.