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Traffickers used Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup to enslave us, some Nigerian women claim

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Women

Instead, she had found herself forced to work as a prostitute.

Fan ID was a card introduced by world football governing body FIFA in collaboration with the World Cup hosts to ease visa procurement worries for intending travelling spectators.

It allowed visa-free entry to the FIFA World Cup supporters with match tickets, but did not confer the right to work.

In spite of that, the 19-year-old Obuson said she had hoped to work as a shop assistant to provide for her two-year-old daughter and younger siblings back in Nigeria’s Edo.

Instead, she said she was locked up in a flat on the outskirts of Moscow and forced into sex work along with 11 other Nigerian women.

They were supervised by a “madam’’, also from Nigeria.

“I cried really hard. But what choice did I have?” Obuson told Reuters after being freed by anti-slavery activists.

She said her “madam’’ had confiscated her passport and told her she would only get it back once she had worked off a fictional debt of 50,000 dollars (38,053 pounds).

Obuson told her story to a rare English-speaking client who got anti-slavery activists involved.

Two Nigerians were later arrested and charged with human trafficking after striking a deal to sell Obuson for two million roubles (around 30,000 dollars) to a police officer posing as a client.

This fact was according to her lawyer, statements from prosecutors, and evidence presented at court hearings in the case attended by Reuters journalists.

The case is still under investigation.

Obuson’s case is however not isolated.

Reuters met eight Nigerian women aged between 16 and 22 brought into Russia on Fan IDs and forced into sex work.

All of them said they had endured violence.

“They don’t give you food for days, they slap you, they beat you, they spit in your face… It’s like a cage,” said one 21-year old woman, who declined to be named.

In September, a Nigerian woman was killed by a man who refused to pay for sex, police said.

The Nigerian embassy later identified her as 22-year old Alifat Momoh who had come to Russia from Nigeria with a Fan ID.

Russian police say 1,863 Nigerians who entered the country with Fan IDs had not left by Jan. 1, the date when the IDs expired.

Kenny Kehindo, who works with several Moscow-based non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to help sex trafficking victims, estimates that more than 2,000 Nigerian women were brought in on Fan IDs.

Neither Russian police nor the Nigerian embassy in Moscow replied to requests for a comment.

A Nigerian Foreign Ministry spokesman also did not respond to text messages and phone calls requesting a comment.

“Many are still in slavery,” said Kehindo, who disclosed that he had helped around 40 women return to Nigeria.

“Fan ID is a very good thing, but in the hands of the human traffickers it’s just an instrument,” he said, calling for more cooperation between the authorities and anti-trafficking NGOs during major sports events, including the 2022 Qatar World Cup where a Fan ID system is also being considered.

Anti-slavery group “Alternativa’’ said its helpline had fielded calls from Nigerian women held in St Petersburg and other World Cup host cities.

While a prosecution has been launched in Obuson’s case, police have been unable to act against suspected traffickers in other cases due to a lack of evidence.

“A lot of girls are still out there,” said Obuson.

Fan IDs were issued by the spectator’s home Football Association or federation upon purchase of at least a FIFA World Cup match ticket, and was even procured online after a ticket purchase.

However, it was widely abused by some football federations, with their officials freely inflating ticket prices or selling the Fan ID directly.

In most cases, this was done in collusion with human traffickers or sex slave patrons, while in some cases genuine football spectators were duped.(Reuters/NNN)
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Foreign

Human traffickers intercepted in Finland

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Members of an international criminal group, smuggling people from mainland Europe to the United Kingdom, had been intercepted at Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport, the Finnish Border Guard said on Thursday.

The human traffickers were identified when a Swedish citizen and a Kuwaiti, who had used another person’s Swedish passport, were arrested at the airport in January.

The two men were on their way from Paris via Helsinki to London, the Border Guard said.

According to a preliminary investigation launched by the Crime Prevention Unit of the Gulf of Finland Coast Guard District, it was not the Swedish man’s first such journey to Finland.

Between December 2019 and January 2020, he is suspected to have smuggled two other foreigners from Finland to the UK by using other people’s passports.

The investigation has also found that the Swedish citizen caught in Finland had applied for asylum in the UK as a Kuwaiti by providing false personal information to the local authorities.

The criminal offences under investigation in Finland are part of a series of operations, in which people have been smuggled from mainland Europe through various countries to the UK, the Border Guard said.

The acts are suspected to have been carried out by an influential professional smuggling ring in Sweden and the UK.

The criminal gang is suspected of having charged the trafficked persons around 8,000 euros ($8,600) for each trip.

During the investigation, close international cooperation was established with the support of Europol (the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation) and Eurojust (a European Union agency dealing with judicial cooperation in criminal matters).

Members of the smuggling ring have been caught in both Sweden and the UK, where local authorities conducted home searches and arrests.

A suspect in Finland, the Swedish citizen has been imprisoned since the end of January 2020 on suspicion of organising a serious illegal entry.

The investigation into the other members of the criminal ring continues in Finland and abroad, the Border Guard said.

AIB

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Foreign

Human traffickers intercepted in Finland

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Members of an international criminal group smuggling people from mainland Europe to the United Kingdom (UK) had been intercepted at Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport, the Finnish Border Guard said on Thursday.

The human traffickers were identified when a Swedish citizen and a Kuwaiti, who had used another person’s Swedish passport, were arrested at the airport in January. The two men were on their way from Paris via Helsinki to London, the Border Guard said.

According to a preliminary investigation launched by the Crime Prevention Unit of the Gulf of Finland Coast Guard District, it was not the Swedish man’s first such journey to Finland. Between December 2019 and January 2020, he is suspected to have smuggled two other foreigners from Finland to the UK by using other people’s passports.

The investigation has also found that the Swedish citizen caught in Finland had applied for asylum in the UK as a Kuwaiti by providing false personal information to the local authorities.

The criminal offences under investigation in Finland are part of a series of operations, in which people have been smuggled from mainland Europe through various countries to the UK, the Border Guard said.

The acts are suspected to have been carried out by an influential professional smuggling ring in Sweden and the UK. The criminal gang is suspected of having charged the trafficked persons around 8,000 euros (8,600 U.S. dollars) for each trip, the Border Guard said.

During the investigation, close international cooperation was established with the support of Europol (the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation) and Eurojust (a European Union agency dealing with judicial cooperation in criminal matters). Members of the smuggling ring have been caught in both Sweden and the UK, where local authorities conducted home searches and arrests.

A suspect in Finland, the Swedish citizen has been imprisoned since the end of January 2020 on suspicion of organizing a serious illegal entry. The investigation into the other members of the criminal ring continues in Finland and abroad, said the Border Guard.

(XINHUA)

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Health

NAPTIP plans to open human traffickers registry

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The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) says it will open human traffickers registry to name and shame perpetrators of the illegal act.

The Director-General of the agency, Mrs Julie Okah-Donli, disclosed this on Friday at the flagship of the second phase project of “Not-for-sale” campaign in Abuja.

“The ‘Not-for-sale’ campaign is been spearheaded by the UK Cabinet Office, aid to assist NAPTIP towards the total elimination of the scourge of trafficking in Nigeria.

“If criminals can form networks to commit crimes in our society, then organisations of goodwill must close ranks and partner to combat and surmount them.

“NAPTIP with the support of UK Cabinet Office is reshaping behavioural communication efforts in our awareness campaign with paradigms to rekindle the pride in Nigerian youths.

“And to discontinue the assumption that the street of Europe are painted with Gold,” Okah-Donli said.

According to her, NAPTIP collaboration with the UK Cabinet Office have yielded valuable results and called on other stakeholders of the agency to continue to be good ambassadors by working towards ending the menace of trafficking.

Mrs Catriona Laing, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, said that the “Not-for-sale” campaign was geared towards reminding all Nigerians on the seriousness of human trafficking issues in Nigeria.

According to her, human trafficking is one of the world most horrible problems and Nigeria has been greatly endemic with the issue, hence the need to continue to campaign against it.

“We have to confront this; over 1.1 million Nigerians are living in slavery, this campaign is all about reaching out to young women and girls; the campaign has been successful since its launch.

“We are working with DFID to stamp out trafficking in Nigeria, we are also working with NAPTIP on the law enforcement angle, let’s continue to collaborate; don’t sell the future of your daughter,” she stressed.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the idea behind the “Not-for-sale” campaign was to discourage young Nigerians to say no to human traffickers and smugglers of migrants.

NAN also reports that the first phase of the project started in March 2019.

The objective of the project was to identify young Nigerians who in spite of the lures and harmful attraction of the scourge traffickers, resist this path and choose to stay back in Nigeria and contribute to its development.

The piloting states for this project are Edo, Delta, Lagos and Akwa Ibom.

The Attorney-General and Commissioners for Justice from Edo and Delta States, who are chairmen of the taskforce teams on trafficking issues in their respective states, were present at the event.

 

Edited By: Dorcas Jonah/Muhammad Suleiman Tola
(NAN) 

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Foreign

Thai police find bodies of 7 suspected drug traffickers

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Thai police said they retrieved seven bodies on Thursday from a pond in the country’s north believed to be drug traffickers who engaged in a firefight with soldiers several days earlier.

Police Colonel Paween Tongsomboon, chief of Koh Chang police station in the border district of Mae Sai, said the bodies were discovered near where a shoot-out took place on Monday between soldiers and around 20 drug traffickers.

The traffickers retreated from the gun battle, which resulted in no initial casualties.

They left behind 2,252,000 methamphetamine pills and 14 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, police said.

Thailand is a major transit hub for drugs in the region and soldiers have been fighting drug traffickers in the north, which borders Myanmar, for over a decade.

Edited By: Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim

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Defence/Security

NAPTIP to intensify war against human traffickers in Lagos, says Commander

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The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) on Tuesday said that it would  continue to wage war against persons involved in trafficking of persons in and outside the country.

 

The agency’s Commander in Lagos State, Mr Daniel Atokolo, told the Nigeria News Agency in Lagos that many Nigerian youths had been trafficked to other countries.

 

He said that the traffickers used to lure their victims outside the country under the pretext of offering them good employment opportunities there.

 

He implored Nigerian youths to do personal assessment of their qualifications to employments being offered them by most foreign benefactors.

 

The NAPTIP commander said that the agency was determined to ensure that victims of human trafficking receive adequate care and protection.

 

The commander also said that the command rescued 18 victims from their traffickers in 2018 and had been empowered with hair dressing and tailoring skills.

 

“Sixteen victims were empowered with tailoring, catering and hair dressing skills and tools in 2019.

 

“ Also 10 victims have just commenced skill acquisition trainings in tailoring and hair dressing,” he said.

 

Atokola also said that some of the victims rescued by the command had gained admissions into various schools.

 

He said that two victims had gained admissions into the university and five others gained admissions into secondary schools.

 

He added that two others gained admissions into primary schools, and another two gained admissions into a nursery school.

 

NAN’ reports that the agency had rescued no less than 3,000 Nigerians from being trafficked outside the country between 2018 and 2019.

Edited By: Shittu Obassa/Peter Dada

 

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Politics

Be wary of online human traffickers, Group advises Nigerians

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A group, Migrant Project (TMP), has advised Nigerians to be conscious of the activities of human traffickers operating online via social media, mobile apps and other platforms.

The group’s Media Lead, Mr Tayo Elegbede, said in Lagos on Wednesday that the interest of human traffickers’ was to exploit women, men and children through forced labour and commercial sex.

“They now recruit unsuspecting persons online, most often via Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Dating Sites, amongst others.

“We have also noticed a disturbing rise in the modus operandi of human traffickers.

“They now recruit, groom and control victims online, riding on the possibilities of digital anonymity which makes it easier and cheaper to operate,’’ Elegbede said.

He said that the predators were posing online either as travel agents with enticing deals, recruitment agencies with job offers or as lovers.

The media lead said that these atrocities were committed via dating sites and social media platforms by building trust before unleashing their inhumane intent.

Elegbede said there was rise in the number of Nigerians trafficked in and out of the country, many of whom recently returned from the middle East countries such as Lebanon and Oman.

“Traffickers are capitalising on the growing desperation of many Nigerians to migrate abroad at all costs.

“They identify vulnerable persons with low self-esteem, ignorance and displayed an interest in migrating and reach out to them with deceptive offers.

“This is always the case of supply meeting demand. However, it often turns out to be sour too fast,” he said.

Elegbede cautioned Nigerians to be careful and report online content, personality or organisation with suspecting offers, promises and operations lacking clarity and credibility.

According to him, this is to avoid being a victim of human trafficking.

He advised social media sites to improve their community control policies to downplay contents and sanction organisations involved in human trafficking.

Edited By: Chinyere Bassey/Olagoke Olatoye

 

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Foreign

One of Europe’s most wanted traffickers extradited to Romania

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   Britain has extradited one of Europe’s most wanted organised criminals to Romania, where he faces charges including human trafficking, murder and money laundering, police said on Friday.

Romanian authorities accused Florin Ghinea, 45, of leading a major organised crime network that sent Romanian women to Ireland, Finland and Dubai for sexual exploitation, Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) said.

Ghinea, known by the nickname Ghenosu, is also accused of blackmail and conspiring to kill a criminal rival.

Until his arrest in August 2018 at a gym in the town of Watford, on the northern edge of London, Europol had listed Ghinea as one of the continent’s most wanted men.

He was detained on a European Arrest Warrant and flown from London to Bucharest on Wednesday, following the conclusion of extradition proceedings in Britain, the police said.

“Ghinea was arrested as a result of some excellent joint working between the NCA and Romanian law enforcement,’’ said Dave Hucker, head of European operations for the British crime agency.

“His departure is a huge success, and I’ve no doubt our streets are safer as a result,’’ Hucker added.

Edited By: Halima Sheji/Felix Ajide

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General news

NAPTIP arrests 130 traffickers, rescues 190 victims in 3 years

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The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking In Person (NAPTIP) on Friday said the agency apprehended no fewer than 130 suspected human traffickers and rescued 190 victims within three years.

The Zonal Commander in Charge of Osun, Ondo and Kwara, Mr Saadu Mustapha, disclosed this in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency on Friday in Osogbo.

He said about 106 cases involving trafficking of humans was handled by the command between 2017 and 2019, and rescued 190 victims,  including 45 males and 145 females.

“Traffickers now lure their victims with juicy job offers and other comfortabilities in order to get them abroad and dehumanised them.

“There are some foreigners and other locals who aide trafficking in the name of recruitment abroad knowing to be false.

“The command have been able to handle 106 cases and also rescued about 190 victims to include male 45 and female 145.

“The numbers of suspected victims arrested between 2017 and date by the zone was 79 males and 51 females, making 130.

“We still have about 11 cases pending in court with about 36 completed and 28 cases under investigation,” Mustapha said.

According to him, youths in the country must be conscious of some juicy offers by the traffickers who tend to lure them abroad for trafficking.

“Recently, we arrested and arraigned a Lebanese and his syndicate in Kwara for trafficking some underage girls to Lebanon.

“Although, they have been remanded in prison by a Federal High Court while the rescued victims are to be reunited with their parents.

“We also have a case of one Rosemary Prisea who recruits female victims for exploitative prostitution and had been convicted after she was apprehended and arraigned in the court of law,” Mustapha said.

He however called on stakeholders and relevant sister agencies to support the fight against human trafficking in order to reduce the menace.

Edited By: Celine-Damilola Oyewole/Muhammad Suleiman Tola

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Health

NAPTIP begins investigation on the traffickers arrested at Seme border

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The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) says it has started investigation on the human traffickers arrested on Jan. 28.

The News agency of Nigeria reports that the traffickers were arrested by officers of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) at the Seme border in Lagos State.

Mr Adekoye Vincent, an officer in the Press and Public Relations Department of the agency, disclosed this to NAN on Friday in Abuja.

Vincent, who spoke on behalf of the Director-General, Mrs Julie Okah-Donli said the agency was fully aware of the incident and was working hard through its Lagos Zonal Command to unravel the mystery about the issue.

He said that the zonal command was working in collaboration with NIS to investigate the matter with a view to fishing out the real perpetrators.

Vincent said that the agency had continued to build a mutual relationship with other sister agencies to ensure total elimination of trafficking issues in the country.

“The DG has continued to build on the existing relationship and collaboration with other agencies towards curbing human trafficking.

“Our partnership with law enforcement agencies has been cordial.

“We are working with them to ensure that those who are coming into the country through the borderline are properly profiled at various points.

“Also, in order to keep abreast of the trending issues in human trafficking, NAPTIP has continued to build the capacity of these partners by enlightening them,’’ he said.

Vincent said that the DG was at the Seme border in 2019 where she trained some law enforcement officers of both Nigeria and Benin Republic.

He said that there was enlightenment programme for people at the border community with the aim of creating awareness on human trafficking.

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde/Grace Yussuf

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Contact US: editor @nnn.com.ng, nnnnews247 @gmail.com

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