Nigerian government to rescue girls trapped in Saudi Arabia

Adoba Echono, Abuja

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffery Onyeama (R); Director General, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Dame Julie Okah–Donli (L), and a victim of trafficking, during a news conference on Human trafficking in Abuja on Thursday (9/8/18).

The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), says it will soon repatriate over 50 Nigerian girls trapped in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The Director–General of NAPTIP, Julie Okah–Donli disclosed this in Abuja while briefing the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama on the outcome of the investigation on Nigerian girls trafficked to Saudi Arabia.

The Director General who came along with one of the victims said the team was set up by the minister after a complaint was lodged by NAPTIP on the nation’s youth being innocently trafficked to Saudi Arabia.

Mrs. Okah–Donli while reporting on her findings to the Minister of Foreign Affairs said over fifty Nigerian girls were trapped and facing serious hardship in Saudi Arabia.

“We came here complaining to you about the rate at which our young ones are being taken out of the country to Saudi Arabia under the guise of getting jobs for them.”

“There were calls from victims who were being trapped in Saudi, who are suffering and you graciously set up a team comprising NAPTIP officials and the ministry to go to Saudi and investigate.”

“When the team visited Saudi Arabia, we met with more than 50 girls who were interviewed and we were told that there were many more girls who were stranded in various part of Saudi Arabia.”

“One of the victims was brought back and she is here to recount her ordeal,” Mrs. Okah–Donli said.

She said there were a lot of Nigerian girls who were stranded in Saudi working under slave-like conditions in people’s home.

According to her, most of them are raped while others are made to work 18 hours out of 24 hours.

She said many were made to sleep in very poor condition and not paid in accordance with what the fraudulent trafficking agencies promised them.

“There is a very big cartel that works with embassies, who secured visas for the victims because those who have genuine businesses don’t easily get visas but the trafficked,” she said.

Responding, the minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Onyeama described the situation as pathetic and said that the federal government was going to deal with the issue holistically and see the end of the menace.

Mr. Onyeama said there was a report that had a serious and a very negative impact on the country and the people, which made the ministry to set up an investigation team on it.

“The report showed that this is a real scourge and it is just too pervasive now in our society and a lot of work is being done by the NAPTIP which is commendable.

“Human trafficking is about trafficking beyond our border and these concerns the ministry of foreign affairs; we are also very much worried.

“We need to sensitise our country and our people and to bring the issues closer to home through a personal experience,” he said.

He said the ministry was in the process of having inter-ministerial meetings with all Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, to really address the problem and tackle the issue once and for all.