The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), says federal government will soon repatriate over 50 Nigerian girls trapped in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Director–General NAPTIP, Julie Okah–Donli, said this on Thursday in Abuja while briefing Foreign Affairs Minister, 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.
“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,” she 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.
The minister 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 this 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.
“We want to put in place mechanism to tackle this issue, it is a crime against humanity, our youths are suffering and it is not something we can tolerate.
“And, every effort would be made, that nothing would be spared toward eradicating this menace from this country and from the face of the earth,” he said.
The victim who was veiled while narrating her ordeal in Saudi Arabia said she was lured by a friend living in Dubai who connected her with a woman in Bannex Plaza in Abuja.
The girl who spoke in English fluently but didn’t reveal her identities, said she left for Saudi Arabia with other girls on December 30, 2017 before being rescued by NAPTIP through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“It all started through a friend who claimed she was living in Dubai; she introduced me to a woman agent in Abuja, I was living in Lagos and latter invited me to meet her in Abuja
“When I came, I was taken for a medical check-up in Dr Wada’s Hospital.
“The agent promised that I would go to Saudi Arabia as a sales girl and that I would be earning equivalent of N150, 000 there.
“Everything was processed through her and when we got to Saudi Arabia it was a different thing entirely, my passport was seized and I ended working as a house help.
She said when the condition was unbearable she called the woman and said she could no longer cope but the agent said she could not leave.
According to her, the agent said she must pay N1.7 million before she could be released
“And if I could not pay I would have to work for two years, so I contacted a journalist friend who contacted NAPTIP that contacted the Nigerian Embassy through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” she said.
The girl, who said she almost committed suicide before help came for her called on the federal government to come to the rescue of thousands of Nigerian girls trapped in Saudi Arabia.
“I want government to assist those other girls that are stranded because it is not easy, Nigerian girls are passing through hell in Saudi Arabia , there may not be work in Nigeria but it is better to stay back.
“I went through physical torture because my boss and her children beat me when I said that I wanted to go back to Nigeria.”