After almost two days of waiting for their arrival, 41 Nigerian human trafficking victims returned home from Mali on Monday.
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) flew the victims from Bamako, Mali into Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, touching down at 7:25 p.m. on Monday night. The victims were subsequently profiled by officials of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS).
The returnees were all women in their 20s or younger.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora Matters, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, along with officials of the National Agency for Protection and Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and other government officials, were on ground to welcome the girls back to the country.
Speaking on their return with journalists, Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa said that the Chief of Defence Staff, Nigerian Air Force, NAPTIP, and other relevant government agencies assisted in the rescue operation.
She stated that President Muhammadu Buhari had given a directive to evacuate and rehabilitate any Nigerian stranded outside the country.
Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa revealed that there are still several more Nigerians stranded in Mali and other parts of the world, but vowed to rescue them.
She explained that Monday’s returnees were tricked into traveling to Mali in pursuit of economic opportunities.
“They were deceived into embarking on the journey. We will ensure we train them to the state of proficiency in different vocations, after which we will trace their parents and counsel them,” Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa said. The NAPTIP has been tasked with rehabilitating the victims, she added.
“We will monitor the girls for two years so they do not sell their vocational equipment. It goes beyond poverty for them to embark on such a mission. The government had to rescue them because they sent a distress call. This made Buhari direct the service chiefs to wade into the matter to rescue the girls.”
While commending the officials who facilitated the girls’ release, Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa called on international non-governmental organizations to assist the Nigerian government in fighting human trafficking.