Ten Nigerian children have been rescued from human traffickers planning to fly them to Russia and exploit relaxed visa controls for the World Cup, anti-trafficking officials said on Tuesday.
Five suspects, including a policeman and a quarantine officer, were arrested at Lagos’ main airport for allegedly recruiting the victims, nine girls and a boy, and facilitating their travel, said Nigeria’s anti-trafficking agency, NAPTIP.
The children, who were all in possession of a FIFA fan pass, were intercepted by officials as they tried to board a flight to Moscow on Saturday night, according to the agency.
Five other potential victims, also children, were stopped from boarding when staff noticed they only had one-way tickets.
Officials in Nigeria said last month they had intelligence showing plans were underway to traffic local women to Russia for the World Cup, taking advantage of Moscow’s decision to let spectators enter the country with just a ticket and a fan pass.
“The agency will not give traffickers any opportunity to use the World Cup to ferry Nigerians out into a life of misery abroad,” NAPTIP’s director Julie Okah-Donli said in a statement.