The 2016 FIBA U-17 World Championship began on Wednesday June 22 in Spain without Nigeria’s team following the refusal of the Spanish Embassy in Lagos to give the team travelling visas. It is being alleged that the Anti Human Trafficking Agency (NAPTIP) was responsible for the denial.
However, the Acting Director General of NAPTIP, Alhaji Abdulrazak Dangiri has vehemently denied the allegation by the Nigerian Basketball Federation that the agency was instrument to the denial of the Visa.

According to Thisday, the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) had presented every document ranging from travelling insurance, birth certificates, sworn affidavits by the players parents which the Foreign Affairs Ministry endorsed since they are minors as demanded by the embassy but yet the Spaniards denied them visas. The NBBF all through was working with the sport’s world body, FIBA, and the Local Organising Committee on ground in Spain but in spite of all these, the Spanish Embassy which had promised to issue the visa, started shifting grounds from Thursday to Friday last week before they finally returned the players passports to the protocol officer of the Youth and Sports ministry without visas on them.

Below is the full test of the Ag. DG on the allegation titled, “DENIAL OF SPANISH VISA TO THE NATIONAL U-17 BASKETBALL TEAM.

“The attention of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has been drawn to the news indicating that the Nigerian National Under- 17 Basketball Women team billed to participant in the FIBA Under- 17 World Championship in Zaragoza, Spain have been denied visa by the Spanish Embassy based on a letter from the Agency. We deny this report in entirely. NAPTIP never wrote to the Spanish embassy or anybody at all on this matter.

It is true that the Nigerian Basketball Federation (NBBF) through a letter signed by its Secretary- General, Okeke Patrick. N wrote a letter to the Agency seeking assistance for the team. Calls were made to the Secretary -General to visit the Agency to clarify the type of assistance needed. He said he will not be able to come but that he will send his deputy. Till today, nobody came from NBBF on the matter and there was no basis to write to anybody or Embassy on it.

When the news broke a while ago, my Ag. Director-General, Alhaji Abdulrazak Dangiri and I called the Embassy of Spain in Abuja to confirm the information and we were pointedly told that NAPTIP HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE VISA DENIAL. We were also informed that the visa application was denied based on three issues:

i. The application was full of irregularities;

ii. The application came late and;

iii. The person who signed the application was late and couldn’t have signed such an application.

It is important that the Basketball federation informs the nation the true position of this matter and not look for anybody to put the blame on. This is the true position.

Josiah Emerole
Head, Press and Public Relations (NAPTIP)

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Meanwhile, while addressing the players and coaches after the disappointing news last Thursday, NBBF President, Tijjani Umar said they will be released to return to their various homes

“We are however, going to invite most of them for the Africa U-18 Championship holding later this year,” Umar assured.

The U-17 girls tutored by Coach Adeka Daudu qualified from the African Championship held in Madagascar last year and were drawn in Group A with Canada, Latvia and Japan for the World Championship.

Source: Thisday/NAPTIP

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