Maureen Ihua-Maduenyi and Olaleye Aluko
The Murtala Muhammed International Airport Police Command on Tuesday said its officer, Inspector Matthew Esan, was not involved in human trafficking.
PUNCH Metro had reported on Monday that operatives of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and other related offences rescued 10 youths who were allegedly being trafficked to Moscow, Russia, for the World Cup tournament.
NAPTIP had stated that Esan was arrested for alleged complicity in the attempted trafficking of the nine girls and one boy.
The spokesperson for the command, DSP Joseph Alabi, however, said Esan was arrested in error by NAPTIP operatives.
He said, “Investigations by the command showed that the officer was arrested by overzealous NAPTIP operatives while carrying out his legitimate duties at the airport terminal.
“On June 9, 2018, at about 7.30pm, Inspector Matthew Esan, while on duty at the MMIA departure hall, received one Henry, who claimed that he was sent to him (Esan).
“While trying to get acquainted with the said person, some men who were later discovered to be NAPTIP operatives, descended on him and seized his mobile phone as well as his identity card. He was later told that he was a member of a syndicate trafficking young Nigerians to the forthcoming FIFA World Cup in Russia and was taken to the NAPTIP office alongside other arrested persons and 10 rescued youths.”
Alabi said following the intervention of the command, Esan was released on Monday after the arrested persons confirmed that they did not know him.
The NAPTIP Head of Press and Public Relations, Stella Nezan, could not be reached on Tuesday as her line rang out.
But a NAPTIP operative, who spoke on condition of anonymity, insisted that the policeman had a case to answer.
He said, “The policeman was granted bail after an undertaking was signed by his superiors.
“The policeman and other suspects were in mufti during the arrest; it was when we were profiling the suspects that we got to know that he is a policeman. He had come to meet the victims and he held long discussions with them.
“He was granted bail, which he is entitled to anyway. But he was released after an undertaking by his superiors. He has a case to answer if you read the account of how the attempted trafficking took place.”
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