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Russia: FG vows to prosecute airline agents responsible for canceling return tickets of stranded Nigerians

The Federal Government has vowed to arrest and prosecute the airline travel agents who canceled 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 made available by the spokesperson, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Tope Elias-Fatile in Abuja on Sunday.

Ugba spoke on the government’s position over the issue while addressing the stranded Nigerians in Moscow, Russia before their departure to Nigeria.

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.

This was amidst allegations that their return tickets were canceled abruptly by airline agents, forcing the fans to remain in Russia without any hope of returning to the country.

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 20th conveyed the 155 stranded Nigerians back to Abuja.

The envoy in the 21 minutes video expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari 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 free, urged the victims to produce any document they had to enable the government to crack 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, 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.

According to him, it was not a crime for them to come and want to watch football there, neither for coming to know what Russia was all about.

“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.