Reprieve has come the way of Nigerians who were stranded in Russia following the end of the Russia 2018 World cup. Most of the stranded Nigerians had been duped by travel agents who took their money and left them stranded on the streets of Russia while others had gone to Russia with the hope of seeking asylum in the country.
The stranded Nigerians, who besieged the nation’s embassy in Moscow on July 12, were safely returned to the country following a directive by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Federal Government further revealed that it will begin investigations into suspected human trafficking in the case of the 155 Nigerian football fans that got stranded in Russia after the World Cup tournament while receiving the returnees at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama revealed this after a discussion with the Director General of National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Ms Julie Okah–Donli; the minister said 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,”
The minister opined 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 and 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 on the streets of Russia.
The Presidency was alarmed when Nigerians besieged the Embassy in Russia to ask for assistance after realizing they had been duped and couldn’t return home. Local Russian media had put the amount of stranded Nigerians at 400 and added that some had been deceived that they could apply for asylum with their world cup passes while others had though they could secure jobs.
The World Cup passes issued by the Russian government to ease the entry of football fans into the country were however billed to expire at the end of July. Russia does not have a friendly policy towards immigrants.