The Federal Government has evacuated 41 Nigerian girls who were victims of human trafficking from Bamako, Mali.
A military transport plane, the Charlie-130 Hercules (C-130H) belonging to the Nigerian Air Force and with the call sign NAF 913 dispatched by the Federal Government to evacuate the girls touched down the Air Force Hanger of Murtala Muhammed Airport Lagos at about 7.25pm.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa as well as Police, Immigration, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and National Agency for the Protection of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) were at the airport to receive the girls who all looked exhausted and depressed on arrival.
They were first profiled by Nigerian Immigration officials to ascertain their true identities and subsequently handed over to NAPTIP. Daily Sun learnt that the girls were all heading to various countries in Europe and were only using Bamako as a transit. Dabiri-Erewa who briefed journalists said six key suspects – called “Madams” – that had picked up the girls mostly from Edo state in Nigeria for onward trafficking to Europe were also apprehended in Bamako and brought back alongside the 41 girls and handed over to security for prosecution. She said the evacuation of the girls was made possible by a joint collaboration between the Ministry of Defence , Nigerian Air Force, Office of the Senior Assistant to the President on Diaspora, and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons(NAPTIP).
She said their return home was part of directive from President Buhari, who insisted that Nigerians stranded anywhere in the world should be assisted to return home safely .
She praised the Chief of Defence Staff , Chief of Army Staff and Chief of Air Staff for granting the aircraft to facilitate the evacuation of the girls .
She Dabiri-Erewa :” NAPTIP will rehabilitate them, we have commenced profiling of the girls. But we call on Non Governmental Organizations to join us in tacking this problem.
” It goes beyond poverty for them to embark on such risky mission. They were deceived, they were lured, but We will ensure we train them to the state of proficiency in different vocations.
” We will monitor the girls for two years, so they do not sell the vocational equipment .We have arrested six suspects – the Madams – and have handed them over to security agencies for prosecution,” she added . Access to speak to the girls was prevented by NAPTIP officials who explained that most of them were in their teens and needed to be shielded from any form of stigmatisation.