The Federal Government has mandated the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), to carry out a comprehensive screening of all members of Nigeria’s contingent to the World cup in Russia.
The Head of Press and Public Relations of NAPTIP, Mrs. Stella Nezan disclosed this in a statement in Abuja on Thursday that the step will be taken in order to forestall any incidence of human trafficking.
Nezan explained that this development was a fallout of a meeting between Officials of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports led by the Minister, Mr. Solomon Dalung and the management of National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) led by the Director-General, Ms. Julie Okah – Donli.
She said officials of the embassy of Russia in Nigeria were also part of the meeting.
“To this end, all members of the Nigeria Supporters Club, large delegation and other organized bodies are to submit the list of members traveling to Russia to NAPTIP for screening, after which a clearance certificate will be issued to enable them to travel out of the country for the soccer fiesta.
NAPTIP had on May 28, in a news conference alerted the general public on plans by human traffickers to use the upcoming World Cup to traffic Nigerian youths.
Okah-Donli explained that part of the plot was to float unregistered football supporters club, unofficial government delegation, as well as unregistered youth bodies.
She said that they planned to use these platforms to collect huge sums of money from some desperate youths, with the promise to ferry them out of Nigeria using the World Cup tournament as a ploy.
According to the tip they received, the traffickers in collusion with their collaborators at the destination countries, have also arranged with their cohorts in Europe to facilitate the defection of the victims out of Moscow.
“Already these traffickers have continued to mount pressure on some youths and their parents forcing them to part with huge sums of money in exchange for the Russian visa.
“One of such cases at hand is that of a girl from one of the states in the South-South part of the country (name withheld).
“She reported that a Moscow-based trafficker has continued to pressure her through her parents in order to traffic her.
“The trafficker has concluded plans to airlift her on or before June 5, 2018,” she explained.
Okah-Donli said that the agency’s detectives were already on the trail of the said parents, while the sister operatives in Moscow were handling the traffickers.
She warned parents to beware of persons coming to them to give out their children to be taken abroad within this period.
She added that yielding to undue pressure and deceit would send such children to their early grave.
“Russia is a country with high incidence of human trafficking and many Nigerian victims of human trafficking are held up there, and now seeking assistance to return home.
“Stories from victims of human trafficking rescued by NAPTIP from Russia in the past are full of pains and agonies, with few of such victims permanently incapacitated for the rest of their lives,’’ she said.
The director-general assured that her agency was making effort to meet with the Minister of Sports and Russian Ambassador to Nigeria on the development.
She called on the leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation to ensure that only accredited delegates and officials made the Russian contingent.
Okah-Donli said that NAPTIP would strategise and work to ensure a World Cup free of human trafficking was achieved.
She said that whoever is caught in the act would not be spared no matter how highly placed he or she may be in the country.
The NAPTIP’s spokesperson said that Dalung said the meeting was called to review preparations of Nigeria’s participation at the forthcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup finals holding in Russia.
According to her, the Minister also announced at the meeting that in order to ensure that some suspected human traffickers do not feast on Nigerian youths by trafficking them under the guise of football fans, NAPTIP shall carry out thorough screening of all contingents to the game.
Nezan quoted NAPTIP boss as saying that apart from preparing the fans for the trip through proper screening, the Agency shall also monitor them on arrival to ensure that they did not defect.
“Okah-Donli promised to ensure swift screening and clearance of all intending football supporters knowing fully that the assignment is time-bound”