“We received reports concerning the stranded girls and sent a team to find out,” the director general of the Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) Julie Okah-Donli said.
The trafficking discovery came to light after NAPTIP sent an investigative team to Mali in 2018 following security reports, according to The Tribune. “We sent a fact-finding mission to Mali last month and the mission came with a report that about 20,000 Nigerian girls had been trafficked to different parts of Mali,” Okah-Donli disclosed.
One of the girls who had been held captive shared that she was tricked into going to Mali by human traffickers. She recounted that she was originally told she was being taken to Malaysia for “work,” BBC reported.
The agency said some of the girls had been stolen by kidnappers and put in “slave-like” conditions, adding that some were sold for less than US$2,000 to “service” miners, according to The Tribune.
The kidnapped girls are not only made to service men, but they also have to work to earn their freedom to then become members of the teams which supervise new girls. “They are bought for US$1,675 and are made to pay back US$4,971 to US$5,523 within six months before regaining their freedom,” Okah-Donli explained.
NAPTIP is currently working with authorities from Mali to repatriate the girl.
The agency has also expressed concern regarding girls who may have been trafficked to neighboring Ghana and Senegal. Okah-Donli added that teams will be sent to those countries to investigate.