* Arrests police officer, 4 others
By Alex Enumah in Abuja
Operatives of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) have intercepted and rescued 10 Nigerian youths who were being trafficked to Moscow, Russia.
They were interceptedÂ on SaturdayÂ night at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in an operation code named â€˜â€™Operation BLOCKâ€™â€™ while trying to board a Turkish Airline flight to Russia using the 2018 World Cup tagged â€˜â€™Russia 2018â€™â€™ as avenue for travelling to Russia.
According to a statement from the Press and Public Relations Unit of NAPTIP, the rescued victims comprised of nine young girls and one boy.
“Five of the rescued persons are from Edo State, three are from Delta State, one from Imo State and the other is from Benue State. Eight of them reside in Benin City while the other two reside in Warri and Osogbo respectively,” the statement said, adding that it was from these locations that they were moved simultaneouslyÂ on FridayÂ to Lagos for the journey to Russia. They all had the FIFA Fan ID.
The statement further disclosed that five suspects including a police sergeant and a quarantine officer were also arrested as they were caught coordinating the movement of the victims.
The names of the officials arrested are Esan Matthew (policeman), Stephen Fayemiwo (quarantine officer), Azeez Olowo, Idowu Fashakin and Eni Godwin.
The Director-General of NAPTIP Julie Okah-Donli had penultimate week alerted the nation through the media that criminal gangs were on the prowl using the relaxed entry into Russia for the 2018 World Cup to recruit Nigerian youths to Russia for exploitation.
She also stated that operatives of the Agency were working on some intelligence gathered and were on the trail of the criminal gangs and their potential victims.
â€˜â€™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 a Russian visa,â€™â€™ she had said.
The statement noted that the potential victims commenced their movement to Lagos from their various locations to meet their recruiters as they had agreed and NAPTIP operatives who have been following their communications followed them up until they were stopped at the point of departure at the airport and those involved in recruiting them and facilitating their journey were arrested.
Reacting to the arrest, the Director-General, expressed delight over its success and stressed that the agency will not give human traffickers any opportunity to use the World Cup to ferry Nigerians out into a life of misery abroad.
While explaining that the agency has been vindicated on the alarm it raised, she called on all law enforcement agencies working in all the nationsâ€™ international airports and other entry points as well as airline officials to be on red alert to pick out criminals and potential victims in order to save the Nigerian youths from exploitation.