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 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Head of Press and Public Relations of NAPTIP, Mrs Stella Nezan disclosed 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 travel out of the country for the soccer fiesta,” she said.
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.
“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 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.
“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.
Okah-Donli said that NAPTIP would strategise and work to ensure a World Cup free of human trafficking was achieved.
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”.