No fewer than 41 Nigerian girls who were trafficked to Mali for forced labour and sexual exploitation, heaved a sigh of relief on Monday as the Federal Government brought them back home.
Also, six persons, alleged to be human traffickers, were arrested and brought back to the country alongside their victims.
They were brought back by the Nigeria Air Force in collaboration with the Office of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).
They were received at the Hajj Camp area of the airport by officers of the NAPTIP and the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS).
Addressing journalists, the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, commended the Chief Of Defence Staff for facilitating the return of the victims to the country.
“We want to thank the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar, and the Chief of Defence Staff, Maj Gen. Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin, for making the return of the girls possible, otherwise they would have still been there.
“The girls came back voluntarily. Some of these girls are between 15 and 17 years old who thought they were being taken to Europe for greener pastures but ended up with traumatic experiences in the hands of their traffickers and their madam.
“So they should not be ashamed of themselves because they are victims. We are going to rehabilitate them through skills acquisition programmes. I am therefore calling on non-governmental organisations to join us in this regard,” she said.
Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa advised Nigerian parents to watch their children carefully and ensure that they don’t succumb to peer pressure and other activities that could exposed them to traffickers.
She confirmed that six of the alleged traffickers, who were arrested and brought back to the country, would be handed over to the appropriate authorities for prosecution.
According to her, the Buhari administration remains committed to the welfare of Nigerians all over the world, hence this intervention.