The road map for Trafficking operations; Niger has been identified as a transshipment port of the Sahel. This implies that the country is a strategic and pivotal location for emerging trade routes and a transit access point for other West African countries to North Africa. It has also been recognized as an originating location where illegal resources are smuggled and migrant workers are either abducted or recruited by traffickers with close ties to networks in countries like Libya, Togo, Morocco, and Nigeria. It is inadvertently linked to international organized crime syndicates in the Middle East, Europe, and the Gulf, which are the major benefactors of most of the identified illegal networks. The use of the Lebanon-Togo – Niger route with access points in the Agadez, Niamey, and Tillaberi regions has been the predominant route of most of these trafficking operations since 2018. Recently, there was an identified increase in the range of the illegal network as trafficking activities spiked in the Maradi and Zinder regions of the country.

The relationship between trafficking and terrorism in Niger.: Following the history of trafficking operations in the Sahel, one could deduce that there is a thin line between terrorism and trafficking operations as their operations tend to intertwine. These range from arms trafficking to abductions and control of border areas. Trafficking is the major avenue used in funding terrorist groups like the Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM), Islamic State in West Africa Province(ISWAP), Boko Haram, and The Islamic State of the Greater Sahara (ISGS-EIGS) terrorist sects which are active within Diffa, Tillaberi, and Tahoua regions. International trafficking networks usually hire militants to aid operations thereby instigating strategic attacks targeting trade routes of the country. The knowledge that control of border routes enables easy access for trafficking operations heightens the risk of traffickers funding terrorism in the Sahel thereby fostering the rise of trafficking networks across the country.

The role of government officials in Niger’s trafficking networks.: Although the Central Office for Illicit Trafficking (ORCTIS) agency in close alliance with the Anti Traffic Airport Cell (CEET) made considerable efforts in curbing trafficking operations in 2021 and January 2022 across the different regions in the country through security operations, the issue seems to persist. The governing bodies have recorded both successes and failures over the years. Drug trafficking has a direct negative impact on different levels of governance as governance can be a major obstacle to this growing industry. There have been claims that traffickers have infiltrated government institutions and even go as far as endorsing certain political officials. Instances of loopholes in the credence of political elites have fostered demands for the implementation of certain policies that enable investigations into government officials. The most recent incident was the arrest of the Mayor of Fachi on 3 January 2022. It was believed that he used government vehicles to transport illegal drugs through the Agadez-Tahoua route.

On 28 January 2022, a joint security operation led to the dismantling of an international migrant trafficking operation in Niamey and Maradi. This comes after successive reports of other raid operations to curb various drug trafficking networks in different regions of the country. During one of the operations over 119 bricks of cocaine worth 11 billion FCFA in Fachi was seized en route to the Agadez-Tahoua regions. The anti-trafficking agency (OCRTIS) revealed that in January 2022, nine related operations were carried out in the country. These and other similar incidents point to a significant rise in illicit drugs, arms, and human trafficking within the nation’s territory. For years, Niger has been in the trafficking limelight in regards to reports of child labour in the Arlit gold mines in Agadez and drug and weapons trafficking in Tahoua.