The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has arrested two operators of two travel and tour agencies based in Abuja for allegedly trafficking 96 Nigerians to Saudi Arabia.
According to a statement signed by the he Head of Press and Public Relations of NAPTIP, Ms Stella Nezan, in Abuja on Friday, the suspects were arrested for allegedly trafficking of 96 Nigerians to Saudi Arabia using the 2017 Hajj exercise.
She gave the names of suspects as Mr Ibrahim Wali, Managing Director and Chief Executive of Family Travel & Tour Limited and Mr Musa Jubril, Chairman and Chief Executive of Divine Travel & Tour limited.
She said flags were raised recently by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) in a letter of complaint against “Family Travel & Tour Limited which applied for and got allocation to take 450 persons to Saudi Arabia during the 2017 Hajj Exercise’’.
According to her, months after the Hajj operations ended the company, has been unable to account for the 96 people and all attempts to get the company to bring them back has proved abortive.
“In the course of the investigation, Wali alleged that his friend Jubril, used his company to transact the business, the two suspects are making useful statements as investigation continues” she said.
NAPTIP warned travel and tour operators in the Country to desist from recruiting innocent Nigerian for sexual and labour exploitation, adding that their actions were inimical to the development of the nation.
Travel agents and airline operators’ responsibilities is spelt out under Section 35 of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administrative (TIPPEA) Act 2015, which regulates the activities of tour operators and travel agents with respect to curbing the crime of human trafficking.
The penalty for aiding and abetting a human trafficker, intentionally or unintentionally upon conviction is jail term and a fine of not more than ten million naira.
NAPTIP on May 4, raided a hotel in Gwagwalada, Abuja “where suspected victims of human trafficking and labour exploitation were believed to have been kept by some operators of some travel & tour companies and rescued 15 victims prior to their departure.’’