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FG To Prosecute Airline Agents For Swindling Stranded Fans In Russia

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The federal government has revealed its intention to investigate suspected human trafficking involving 155 Nigerian football fans that got stranded in Russia after the World Cup tournament.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said in an interview with newsmen that  the plan to probe the issue surrounding the incident was underway.

The stranded Nigerians, who besieged the nation’s embassy in Moscow on July 12, were safely returned to the country, Friday, following a directive by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Onyeama said after a discussion with the Director General of National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Ms Julie Okah–Donli, it was clear that there were possible cases of human trafficking among the returnees.

“I have spoken to the DG of NAPTIP and she had also indicated that they had sounded the alarm bells for these young children not to leave the country, that it had all the hallmarks of trafficking and irregular migration,” he said. The minister insisted that some of them, among whom was a nursing mother, were quite too young to have travelled to Russia by themselves solely for the purpose of the World Cup tournament.

He added that an investigation would also be launched into an allegation that some travel agents cancelled the return tickets of the football fans without informing them, leaving them stranded in the European country.

The stranded football fans including a nursing mother in her mid thirties

came through Ethiopian Airline flight number ET-ALP that arrived Nnamdi

Azikwe International Airport Abuja at about 9.12 p.m on July 20.

The minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, who was at the

airport to monitor their arrival, lauded President Muhammadu Buhari’s

effort to ensure their safe return.

He said that that the President directed that Nigerians, who were stranded

in Russia after the 2018 World Cup tournament, should be evacuated

immediately.

According to him,  the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been monitoring the

process of the evacuation, which is under the coordination of the Mission

of Nigeria in Moscow.

He said that 155 stranded Nigerians were cleared to board an Ethiopian

Airline flight to Abuja.

”They were among the fans who travelled to the Russian Federation for the

2018 FIFA World Cup Tournament and were stranded after the events due to

lack of funds for their upkeep.”

The minister explained that there was also an allegation that some airline

travel agents cancelled return tickets of their customers without informing

them.



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