10 trafficked victims who were allegedly being trafficked to Moscow, Russia, for the World Cup tournament, have been rescued by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP.
The trafficked victims were rescued on Saturday at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport during an exercise codenamed, Operation Block by the anti-trafficking agency, while trying to board a Turkish Airline flight to Russia.
A police sergeant identified as Esan Matthew, was also arrested for his alleged complicity in the trafficking of the victims which comprised of nine girls and one boy; five of them were said to be from Edo State, three from Delta State, one from Imo State and the last victim from Benue State.
Speaking to newsmen, the Head of Press and Public Relations, NAPTIP, Stella Nezan said;
“Apart from the policeman, a quarantine officer, Stephen Fayemiwo, was also arrested for allegedly coordinating the movement of the victims.”
Other arrested suspects include Azeez Olowo, Idowu Fashakin and Eni Godwin, as it was gathered that the victims converged in Lagos on Friday preparatory to meet the syndicate members at the airport.
The NAPTIP operatives reportedly caught up with them at the location around 3pm on Saturday and arrested the suspects, while the victims were rescued. Punch reported that the anti-trafficking agency also disclosed that investigations into the matter were ongoing, adding that the sponsors of the traffickers in Russia would be apprehended.
She said, “The Director-General, Julie Okah-Donli, had penultimate week alerted that there were plans by some criminal gangs to use the 2018 World Cup to recruit Nigerian youths to Russia for exploitation. On Friday, some of these victims were stopped at the point of departure at the airport and those involved in recruiting them and facilitating their journey were arrested.
“Before the arrest, Mathew Esan, had held a discussion with the victims, while Stephen Fayemiwo handed to each of them their travel documents, including their passports, Russian 2018 FIFA identity card and Turkish Airline tickets.
“The operation was supported by officials of the Department of State Services and the Joint Border Task Force, which NAPTIP is a member. While investigations have continued, the agency is still on the trail of some other facilitators and the sponsors in Russia.”