Human Trafficking and the Lure of Free Visas: Who regulates Nigeria’s travel operators?

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Are newspapers like Complete Sports overlooking the public good by carrying adverts that are questionable in intention?

Are newspapers like Complete Sports overlooking the public good by carrying adverts that are questionable in intention?

Open today’s Complete Sports newspaper, Nigeria’s biggest sports daily, and you are confronted by adverts promising travelers work and sweet pay in Dubai and Turkey, as long as you have an international passport.

An advertiser even sweetens the deal with the headline: “First time ever, Pay back in Dubai!!! Get a 2years Dubai visa + Ticket. This batch is for WOMEN only. The minimum salary is N150,000, graduates or skilled (artisans) get more, pay back the money spent on you abroad,” as he lures Nigerians into the world of shady travel as many seek to escape a country where good jobs are increasingly hard to come by and living day to day brings with it troubles and uncertainty.

So I called up the number on the bottom of the advert saying I intend to send a younger sister abroad in order to make money for the family.

“It is nanny work,” responds the man, who confidently tells me the visa will be issued to my fictional sister.

When I talk about the fear of turning women into prostitutes during the trip, he responds: “I can’t lie to you, I’m a good Christian. I don’t deal with things like that.

“The visa will be out in a month,” he assures.

Despite Dubai's stringent new immigration rules, adverts like this promise easy money

Despite Dubai’s stringent new immigration rules, adverts like this promise easy money

Another advert promises jobs, “free ticket, free accommodation, free feeding, free medical and four years permit” to work at American military bases in Spain and Turkey among many other offers.

In broad daylight, Nigerians are asked to surrender their freedom to traffickers on the pages of major newspapers.

In a time when human trafficking is such a big deal, shady deals are advertised in broad daylight inside Nigerian newspapers to lure desperate individuals who are thirsty for a better life and the promise of heaven on earth in foreign countries.

Who is monitoring these activities?

The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) oversees all issues pertaining to illegal travel.

When I called their Lagos zonal office, a female officer told me they are regularly monitoring the media and doing underground investigations.

However, she wasn’t aware of today’s publication in the Complete Sports.

“We will get [the paper] and do our own underground investigation,” she said.

How often do they sweep the media for open advertisements like these?

“We do, we have our own ways of doing this kind of thing. But this one that you said, I don’t know maybe the people in investigations have any hint about it. So I will get across to the Zonal Commander,” she said.

As long as implausible offers of travel to foreign lands continue to be allowed in the media, Nigerians will continue to fall prey to human traffickers.

Let’s hope they bell these cats.

Emmateks

Promise of work and free living in Turkey and Spain could lure unsuspecting Nigerians

Do you have a human trafficking tip off? Call the Lagos NAPTIP office: 07080601801. Email: infolagos@naptip.gov.ng

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