The Presidency has exposed a new human trafficking ring which specializes in flying large number of young girls aged between 13 and 15 to Arab nations.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora Matters, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, who made the disclosure in an interview in Abuja, said a powerful cartel made up of medical doctors, travel agents and others was behind the well-oiled illicit trade.
Unlike those who take the life-threatening risks of going through the Mediterranean, she explained that the new style is to secure genuine visas for innocent young girls and move them through the normal travel channel.
According to her, “There is a new development which if not handled well will become a big scandal later. Our boys and girls of between 12 and 15 are being taken to the embassies, given visas and taken to places like Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Cairo. They are taken to these places by travel agents in planes. I hope we do something about it before it becomes a scandal.”
The Presidential aide, who described the inhuman act as an impending scandal that would embarrass the nation, said the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) was aware of it, but warned that “when it becomes a big scandal, I am sure we will weep for ourselves, our children, our girls and women.”
On the modus operandi of the group, Dabiri-Erewa stated “This is an organised crime and they are taken to the embassies and given visas. They will be taken to a doctor who will see and certify them, a gynaecologist who will see about 50 of them and not ask questions, then travel agents will get visas for them; and they are trafficked to some Arabian countries.”
She therefore, called on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to look into those embassies giving them visa while NAPTIP must work with the immigration authorities to tackle the growing menace.
Dabiri-Erewa stated: “We can’t pretend that it is not happening. This was how I raised the alarm in January, saying don’t go to Libya. By December, we have started talking about it. I am raising the same alarm now. It is a big scandal. They are not going through the Mediterranean, but through proper travel plans with genuine visas. These young boys and girls are trafficked to places like Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Cairo with valid visas and Doctors will carry out physical examination on them.
“This should be investigated because travel agents are involved in securing these visas and making the travel plans. So, NAPTIP, Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Labour need to wake up and ensure that this problem is solved because big people are involved and it is a big cartel. It is up to you people because I have said my own.”
On the evacuation of Nigerians stranded in Libya, the former lawmaker stated that so far, about 6,000 persons had been successfully brought back to the country.
Meanwhile, NAPTIP has accused family members of people with disabilities of aiding and abetting trafficking of some of their own.
Director General of NAPTIP, Julie Okah-Donli stated this in Abuja while handing over a person with disability; 23 years old Makcit Sambo, who had been in her traffickers’ den for eight years; to the Plateau State Government.
Sambo, who was trafficked from Plateau State; saw hell as her abductors moved her to Cameroun before she eventually ended up Garbon.
Okah-Donli admonished family members of people with disabilities to always show affection rather than exposing them to the streets to beg; making them vulnerable to kidnappers or traffickers.
Sambo was in Senior Secondary 3 when she was kidnapped and had in the course of her ordeal given birth to a baby girl.