Immigration arrests 9 girls ‘being trafficked abroad’

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The Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) says it arrested nine girls who were “about to be trafficked” abroad at Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.

Sunday James, NIS spokesman, disclosed this via a statement on Saturday.

Although he was silent on when the girls were apprehended, he said the operatives of the service spotted them on their way to four different countries namely Lebanon, Cairo, Dubai and India.

He said some of the girls claimed to be traveling for employment reasons while others said they were going for treatment and for casual visits.

“Four (4) of them claimed to be traveling to take up employment without knowing their employers neither were they aware of the nature of job they were going for, a discovery made after being interrogated,” the statement read.

“The shady journey was organised by agents aimed at exploiting their innocence and ignorance.

“Two (2) others (who) claimed they were going for visits later confessed they were going for hustle in Dubai.

“The remaining two claimed they were going to India for Medical treatment without referrals; when further asked the nature of sickness, they said yellow fever, before they finally confessed … going for hustle in India.”

James said the nine girls were refused departure “to save their lives and dignity” considering they had “no credible mission” for embarking on their journeys.

He quoted Muhammad Babandede, NIS comptroller-general, as asking parents to be wary of “juicy offers” to their children by family and non-family members to take them abroad.

“The Operatives at the various entry and exit point will never permit them departure,” he said, adding that “if they so appear in an attempt to beat security, they will continue to be arrested in our stepped-up clearance operation.”

The International Labour Organisation estimates trafficking generates an annual profit of $150 billion globally while the Global Slavery Index reports there are 40.3 million victims are affected worldwide.

The index ranked Nigeria 32/167 of the countries with the highest number of trafficked persons – 1,386,000.

According to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), the average age of trafficked persons in Nigeria is 15, with only two percent taken outside the country and 98 percent trafficked within and across states.