Nigeria’s immigration service launched an investigation after two staff members were arrested on suspicion of trying to traffic girls out of the country.
Thousands of girls are each year taken illegally out of Africa’s most populous country, where 70% of 190 million inhabitants live on less than two dollars a day. A large proportion of them go to Europe.
“We received information that two of our officers were arrested at Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, while trying to facilitate trafficking of under-aged girls out of the country,” spokesman James Sunday said.
“The comptroller general of immigration has been briefed and we have started investigations,” he added.
The spokesman did not say how many girls were involved, nor did he give ages or say where they were allegedly being taken to. The movement of people out of the country by criminal gangs, often by sea rather than air, has become a major problem for authorities in the west African country.
The British government says Nigeria is the fourth largest source of human trafficking to its shores and Nigerians are the largest national group among African migrants travelling to Libya and trying to cross from there to Italy by boat.
A report by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) last year estimated 80% of Nigerian girls arriving in Italy by sea might be trafficking victims.