The Federal Government has vowed to arrest and prosecute the airline travel agents who cancelled the return tickets of 230 Nigerian football fans stranded after the 2018 World Cup Tournament in Russia.
The Nigerian Ambassador to Russia, Prof. Steve Ugba, said this in an online video statement made available by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Tope Elias-Fatile, in Abuja on Sunday.
Ugba made government’s position known while addressing the stranded Nigerians in Moscow, Russia before their departure to Nigeria.
NAN reports that over 150 stranded Nigerian football fans besieged the Nigerian Embassy in Moscow on July 12 for assistance at the end of the 2018 World Cup tournament.
The fans had alleged that their return tickets were cancelled abruptly by airline agents, resulting to their being stranded in Russia without any hope of returning to Nigeria.
President Muhammadu Buhari had, on July 16, directed the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; and his Aviation counterpart, Hadi Sirika, to evacuate the Nigerians to Abuja immediately.
Sequel to the directive, a chartered Ethiopian Airline had, on July 20, conveyed the 155 stranded Nigerians back to Abuja.
The envoy, in the 21-minute video, expressed gratitude to the President for ensuring that the stranded fans returned safely to the country.
Ugba, who said that the Federal Government did not want the culprits to go scotfree, urged the victims to produce any document they had to enable the government track down the agents.
“Give us any document that you have about the people who deceived you, or the people who scammed you, who did you 419 so that we can have them picked up and prosecuted in Nigeria.
“We do not want them to go free. So, give us any document you have that will tell us who these people are.
“We are waiting for them in Nigeria because the kind of behaviour that you exhibited here shows that you have character, shows that you have respect for yourselves, and shows that you have respect for Nigeria,” he said.
“It is not a crime for you to come and at the end of the show, you want to go back. It is not a crime.
“But it is a crime for the person who sold you tickets and then, the second leg of going back you do not have tickets anymore. So, it is not your fault.
“We want to hold those responsible for this terrible behaviour to account for their action so that next time, they will not do the same,” he said.
Ugba said that the nation was proud of the stranded fans to have made out time to cheer the Super Eagles in Russia.
He said that the behaviour of the fans and the Super Eagles had earned Nigeria lots of friends in Russia.