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RUSSIA 2018: NAPTIP Insists Arrested Police Officer is Culpable in Attempted Human Trafficking to Russia

The attention of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has been drawn to the statement by the spokesperson for the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Police Command, DSP Joseph Alabi exonerating the Police Officer, Mathew Esan, who was arrested by the Agency’s Operatives over his involvement in the attempt to traffic 10 young Nigerians to Russia last Saturday.

The Agency is shocked that the Command’s Public Relations Officer, DSP Alabi, would make such a sweeping statement that the Officer was arrested by “overzealous NAPTIP operatives while carrying out his legitimate duties at the airport terminal”, especially in a case where he knows next to nothing about.

NAPTIP expected the Nigerian Police, Murtala Muhammed Airport Command to await the outcome of the ongoing investigation before exonerating the Police Officer.

We wish to assure the public that the Nigerian Police as an institution is not under investigation by NAPTIP, the only person being investigated is Mathew Esan who is an officer of the Nigerian Police. He was caught in the act while coordinating the arrangement at the Airport for the Potential Victims of trafficking (PVoTS) to board the Turkish Airline flight.

NAPTIP insists that Mathew Esan is fully involved in the foiled attempt to traffic the young Nigerians to Russia, a trip which would have succeeded save for the timely interception of our operatives. Mr. Matthew Esan was not the only Policeman on duty on that day and the NAPTIP operatives did not go for them. It is also wrong to claim that the officers suddenly descended on him and arrested him. They had monitored his activities on that day and his association with the rescued girls before they went after him.

We do not know how the Command’s Spokesperson ascertained that the other suspects denied knowing Mathew Esan, and we hope he is not merely relying on hearsay from his colleague as he is not a member of the NAPTIP investigating team. We therefore appeal to him to exercise restraints at this point and await the outcome of the investigation.
NAPTIP’s concern is the safety of young Nigerians, and we will continue to collaborate with the Nigerian Police as one of our strong allies in the fight against human trafficking and other vices.

The Nigerian Police is an institution of high repute and it is important that officers do not sacrifice that reputation by trying to defend an officer who may have overstepped his bounds to engage in activities away from his primary job.

Nneka I. Aniagoh
For: Head, Press and Public Relations Unit
June 14, 2018