By Chinedu Eze
About 41 Nigerian girls who were victims of human trafficking billed to be taken to Europe through road and sea were monday deported from Mali, their enroute destination.
They arrived the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos aboard a military transport aircraft otherwise known as Hercules C139 marked with registration number Nigerian Air Force 913.
The aircraft landed at the Nigerian Air Force Hangar wing of the Lagos Airport about 7.25p.m.
Immigration sources said the deportation of the girls, was as a result of the collaboration between the Ministry of Defence, Nigerian Air Force, Office of the Senior Assistant to the President on Diaspora, and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) which evacuated the girls from Bamako, the Malian capital.
Some of the young ladies who were slovenly scantily dressed, were complained as they were photographed while alighting from the military aircraft.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora, Hon Abika Dabiri-Erewa explained in an interview that the girls’ evacuation was made possible with assistance from the Chief of Defence Staff, Nigerian Air Force, NAPTIP and relevant agencies of government.
She said their return home was part of directive from President Buhari, who insisted that Nigerians stranded anywhere in the world should be assisted to return home.
She urged the returnees to make the best use of their lives as there was nothing tangible they were doing in Mali, remarking that there were many Nigerians that were stranded in Mali, who should be brought home.
She said prior to their evacuation, NAPTIP officials had travelled to Mali for documentation and other logistics to ease the return of the girls.
Some of the girls complained of not being allowed to take their belongings as they were literally brought home without their personal effects.
Erewa said the 41 girls were victims of trafficking by some powerful individuals.
She praised the Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff and Chief of Air Staff for granting approval for the aircraft to facilitate the evacuation of the girls.
“NAPTIP will rehabilitate them, we have commenced profiling of the girls. We call on Non-governmental Organizations to join us in tackling this problem. The girls were deceived into embarking on the journey. We will ensure we train them to the state of proficiency in different vocations, after which we trace their parents and counsel them.
“We will monitor the girls for two years, so they do not sell the vocational equipment .”
She said the girls went for greener pastures , and they should not be ashamed of themselves as people are taking advantage of them.
“It goes beyond poverty for them to embark on such mission. Government had to rescue them because they sent a distress call. This made Buhari to direct the service Chiefs to wade into the matter to rescue the girls,” she said.
She also noted that the girls came back with stories of woes and lamentation.
“We have arrested six suspects and have handed them over to security agencies for prosecution,” Dabiri-Erewa added.