Seven non-Muslim girls, who disguised themselves as Muslims by wearing the hijab, have been arrested in Nigeria for trying to make an illegal journey to Europe, officials say.
The girls were among 12 people intercepted by Nigeria’s Immigration Service earlier this week, as they attempted to cross the border in northern Katsina state on their way to Europe.
The immigration authorities say the seven girls were non-Muslims from southern Nigeria, dressed in Islamic attire to enable them get easy passage at the border in the mainly Muslim north.
Some of those arrested were quoted as saying they wanted to go to Europe to search for better opportunities because of the economic hardship in Nigeria.
The girls were handed over to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons for further investigations.
At least 40 people have been apprehended in the last four months in Nigeria as they attempted to cross into Niger to reach Libya via the Sahara Desert, and from there to catch a boat to Europe.
In a related development, over 1,000 people are reported to have voluntarily returned to Nigeria from Libya in the last five months.