The Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) on Monday repatriated 21 Nigerian youth who were rescued from a group of Nigerian human traffickers that was operating in the country.
The rescued youth, aged between 15 and 20 years, were picked up by EOCO last month during a swoop to arrest some people allegedly involved in cybercrime.
However, after investigations, it was established that they were rather victims of human trafficking going on in the country, hence the decision by EOCO to send them back to their country.
At a press conference, the Deputy Executive Director in charge of Operations at EOCO, Nana Antwi, said the arrangement for the repatriation exercise was a collaborative work among EOCO, an NGO and the Nigerian High Commission.
He disclosed that the swoop was organised on September 26 through an intelligence-led operation at a location in Accra.
The victims and seven suspects, he said, were picked up in a house where all the Nigerians had been housed by the suspected human traffickers and were being trained in Internet cyber fraud.
Relating what had happened, Nana Antwi said: “On that day, 28 people were arrested. We had the firm conviction that the arrest covered both the victims and the organisers of the trafficking.
“Subsequent investigative processes revealed that, in actual fact, of the number, 28 young males whose ages were not above 20 years were trafficked from Nigeria and brought to Ghana, housed, given computers and other accessories and were being trained on how to conduct criminal activity with the gadgets.”
The seven suspects, he said, had since October 3 been put before court to answer charges related to the crimes of which they had been accused.
“As a result of the sorting and critical analysis, we found it prudent to separate the victims from the suspects,” he said.
Security Agencies support
Nana Antwi commended the security agencies whose support led to the successful operation and subsequent deportation of the victims.
“In fact, an hour from now, they will start the journey towards their home country, Nigeria. There has been close collaboration with the Nigerian anti-human trafficking authorities and other relevant agencies.
“The Ghana Immigration Service too is in this exercise and all local related agencies are also involved, just as our police counterparts who gave us a very good backing during the September 26 operation,” he said.