Ten Nigerian children who were being smuggled out of the country to Russia have been rescued, the country’s anti-trafficking agency said Tuesday.
The traffickers were attempting to exploit relaxed entry rules into Russia ahead of the 2018 World Cup, according to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).
Nine young girls and one boy were rescued and each child was in possession of a FIFA Fan ID, to take advantage of the fact that Russia is allowing travelers to enter the country with only a FIFA pass before and during the World Cup, NAPTIP said.
The children were intercepted Saturday as they tried to board a Moscow-bound flight in Lagos.
Five suspects, including a police sergeant, have been arrested for allegedly facilitating their travel, the agency said.
The children are now in a shelter for victims of trafficking run by the agency.
Director General of NAPTIP, Julie Okah Donli urged parents to be vigilant warned that human traffickers were luring youths abroad with false promises of sports scholarships and recruitment for sports activities.
“Our intelligence indicated that these mindless and wicked individuals… have now diversified their nefarious activities to include fabricating fake stories of providing educational supports in forms of scholarship, recruitment for sporting activities and the most frightening being organ harvesting,” she said.