Teen Mother Who Sold Baby Arrested In Imo

An 18 year old mother has been arrested by the Imo State Police Command for sealing her baby for the sum of N120,000.00.

She was arrested alongside two human traffickers. Parading the suspects alongside others arrested for various crimes, the State Commissioner of Police, Chris Ezike, disclosed that one Chiamaka Njoku, 18, of Umuokpo Emeabiam Owerri West LGA of Imo state, took in outside wedlock, gave birth on December 10, 2017 and sold the baby girl at the cost of #120,000.00.

“She was impregnated by unidentified man out of wedlock. She left her parents house and was harboured by Okere Justice of the same address who contacted one Franca Chukwukere,  the Proprietress of an illegal orphanage, Franca Gold Orphanage Lagos, where she remained until on 10/12/2017 when she put to bed. The baby girl was sold out at the cost of #300,000 and the sum of #120,000 sent to Chiamaka Njoku through Justice Okere. Two baby girls of one month three weeks and one month two weeks old respectively were recovered from the child trafficker” said Ezike.

53-year-old Franca Chukwukere is from Umuelem, Ihiagwa, Owerri West LGA of Imo state but resident at No. 2 Fasholade street, Ojokoro LGA of Lagos State.

She is married with three children. She harboured the pregnant girl till she delivered. She forged documents and sold the baby as a licensed Orphanage homeowner at the cost of #300,000.and sent #120,000 to the biological mother through Justice Okere. She confessed to the crime.

Okere Justice, 42, from Umuokpo Emeabiam, Owerri West LGA of Imo state, is married with children. He harboured the mother of the trafficked child and later sent her to Chukwukere, who operates the illegal Orphanage.


Oba Of Benin Blames Church Leaders Of Human Trafficking

The Benin Monarch, His Royal Majesty, Oba Ewuare II, has stated when he received the Spiritual Leader and General Overseer of Spirit and Life Family Bible Church, Apostle Deb’rah Eunice Gordon-Osagiede, in his palace in Benin that some church leaders are to blame for the high rate of human trafficking and illegal migration in the State.

Oba Ewuare II said reports indicated that some church leaders are encouraging human trafficking and illegal migration, instead of discouraging encouraging it.

He bemoaned the increasing rate of crime and other anti-social vices in the society, even with the proliferation of churches in the country, adding that, that was an indication that there is no fear of God in the people.

The Benin monarch, who called on church leaders to help discourage illegal migration and trafficking of the youths, disclosed that his Palace would continue to align with government to eradicate the menace in the society.

The Benin Monarch however commended the work of the Federal Government and International Organisation on Migration for their effort to expose the illicit trade and rescue Nigerians subjected to inhuman treatment in Libya.

He told his guests that the Oba Ewuare II Foundation has been established to meet the needs of the poor and less privileged in the society, adding that it is the desire of the Palace to make Edo State destination of choice for everyone by ensuring safety of lives and property.

The Oba said the Palace would collaborate with security agencies to ensure crime is kept as its lowest ebb in the state in order to make it conducive for investors, thereby creating employment and development.

Gordon-Osagiede, said she was in the Palace to acknowledge the good works of the oba since he ascended the throne, especially the abolition of the Community Development Association (CDA), which she described as a landmark achievement.

She commended the Monarch for the peace and tranquility in the Kingdom, and expressed hope that during the reign of Oba Ewuare II, the Kingdom would experience more peace, progress and development.

While acknowledging the goodness of God in the life of Oba Ewuare II, the clergywoman wished him long life and many years on the throne of his forefathers.


NAPTIP Denies Employing Witch Doctors In Fight Against Human Trafficking

The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons has released a statement denying allegations that the agency employed the use of witch doctors to find and arrest human traffickers.

The Statement read;

The attention of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has be drawn to media reports that the Agency has employed / hired Witch Doctors (Juju Priests) in the fight against human trafficking in Nigeria.

The reports quoted the Director-General, Dame Julie Okah-Donli as saying that on Monday in Abuja while declaring open the Symposium on Investigation and Prosecution of Human Trafficking jointly organised by NAPTIP and the Conference of Western Attorneys General Africa Alliance Partnership (CWAG-AAP).

Not only were the headlines misleading, at no point did the Director-General say that the Agency has employed the services of Witch Doctors or hired them in the fight against human trafficking.

What the Director-General said was that as part of the Agency’s efforts to improve prosecution of trafficking cases in Nigeria, the Agency is engaging with all strata of society to understand their roles in the fight against human trafficking. Bearing in mind that the use of Voodoo and administration of oaths on victims is one of the control mechanisms used by human traffickers on their victims, which makes it difficult for victims to open up and assist the Agency in investigation, NAPTIP took its sensitization campaign to the Ayelala Shrines, in Edo State, where these oaths of secrecy are administered to the victims. The priests in those shrines were made to understand the implication of the oaths they administer on the victims and most of them have pledged not to work with the human traffickers any longer and have gone as far as assisting the victims renounce the oaths.

The issue of oath taking has been a fundamental challenge faced by NAPTIP over the years, especially as regards victims’ testimony, as the victims believe the oaths would kill or harm them if they cooperate with us in the course of our investigations. The Agency therefore saw the need to tackle the problem which was aimed at encouraging the victims to give their testimonies, without which NAPTIP cannot successfully prosecute the traffickers.

The Agency had in the past arrested and prosecuted some of these priests for their roles in human trafficking, and therefore could not have employed them in fighting human trafficking. However, we realised that sensitising them will be of more benefit in the fight against human trafficking and in line with NAPTIP’s prevention strategy.
NAPTIP regrets the confusion and outrage the misleading headlines have caused and assures Nigerians that we are working hard to rid the country of human trafficking.

Josiah Emerole
Head, Press and Public Relations (NAPTIP)
6th, February, 2018


Nigerian-American Couple Ordered To Pay Abused Nanny N44 Million

The Nsobundus, the Nigerian couple living in the Houston-area of the United States has been ordered by an American court to pay $121,000 as restitution to the Nigerian woman who worked for 20 hours a day for two years as the nanny to their five children.

The nanny was not paid throughout the period. Now she has a N44m windfall.

Chudy Nsobundu, 57, and his wife Sandra Nsobundu, 49, also were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas to seven months in jail and seven months of home confinement, plus three years on probation, the Associated Press reported.

The naturalized U.S. citizens originally from Nigeria recruited the woman there with the promise of a $100 monthly wage. Instead, authorities said they abused her physically and verbally while she worked at their home in the Houston suburb of Katy from September 2013 to October 2015.

Chudy Nsobundu in 2016 pleaded guilty to visa fraud while his wife pleaded guilty to unlawful conduct with respect to documents in furtherance of forced labor.

According to court documents, the nanny would work every day from 5:30 a.m. to 1 a.m., couldn’t take breaks and had to eat leftovers and not fresh food, including being forced to only drink milk left in bowls in which the children had eaten cereal. She also couldn’t take hot showers.

Authorities said the Nsobundus prevented the nanny from leaving their employment by keeping her passport and by threatening her with physical and mental abuse.

The nanny reached out for help and was rescued following a tip to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. Her name has not been released.

Prosecutors say the couple knowingly caused a false visa application for the victim to be submitted to the Department of State with numerous pieces of false information.

The woman’s date of birth was incorrect on the application, listing her 20 years older than she was, said she was married when she was not, incorrectly indicated the purpose of her travel was to attend a niece’s graduation and falsely identified her in a letter that Chudy Nsobundu was her brother. Prosecutors also said he made false representations under oath on the visa application to increase the chances that the application would be accepted and to hide the fact she’d be working for his family as a housemaid and nanny under conditions that violated U.S. labor laws.

Federal prosecutors said Sandra Nsobundu took the nanny to the U.S. Embassy in Lagos, Nigeria, to obtain her visa and provided her with a letter indicating she didn’t speak English well, that she was to attend a family graduation and gave her a picture of her husband with instructions that she tell embassy officials he was the nanny’s brother and that she was married. The nanny’s husband listed on the visa application actually was the Nsobundus’ driver in Nigeria.

Self Professed Pastor Turns Followers to Sex and Domestic Slaves

The arrest of Self professed Pastor Abraham Roland, an Edo indigene who runs a cult-like fellowship that started as a tutorial centre for admission seekers and students, has turned up some startling revelations.

The revelations were made by his right hand man, David Ogbonnaya, who worked closely with him for over 10 years.

Unmarried Roland ran his circle of followers made up of only young men and women, allegedly brainwashing them and cutting them off from their families and friends and turning them into both sex and domestic slaves.

Ogbonnaya, his right hand person, who once got an admission to the University of Lagos, dropped out after being told by Roland that with Holy Spirit, he did not need to go to school.

He said he served his boss faithfully to the point where he said he would have committed murder without thinking twice while he was under Roland’s control.

Ogbonnaya said, “I gained admission along with three other members – Tosin and Busayo (now in rehab), and one Ifemosun Tosin – at the University of Lagos the same year. He started by asking us to bring our school fees to him. He later asked us to drop out.

“He always preached against western education. I think he knows that books would make us wise. He told us that once we had the Holy Spirit, we did not need education.

“He started a programme with a slogan ‘Child of God, what are you doing in human academic institution.’ The aim was to discourage as many people as possible from being educated.

“He told us to stay away from reading books and never to listen to any other pastor. He said Pastor Sam Adeyemi of Daystar, Bishop David Oyedepo and Pastor Enoch Adeboye were his ‘children’ because God had given him the task of taking over the world.”

it was learnt that he established his tutorial centre called ‘Sound Mind for admission seekers’ in 2003 and later started ‘Sound Mind Students’ Fellowship, which drew membership among university undergraduates in the neighbourhood.

According to Ogbonnaya, Roland decided to end the tutorial section to focus on just the fellowship.

He said, “I was this young man who just wanted help to get education and ended up dropping out and becoming the leader of his fellowship.

“One of the other leaders of the fellowship is a lady called Abi. She is now in rehabilitation after being liberated. She is recovering very fast.

“The man (Roland) slept with all the ladies at the centre. There was a time he took me along when a girl asked him the reason why he was sleeping with all the other girls in the camp.

“He took me along because he trusted me so much. He knew I would never believe what the girl was saying. The idea was to meet the girl and silence her before she exposed the matter.”

Ogbonnaya said while the lady in question challenged Roland for sleeping with the other female members of the group, his loyalty clouded his sense of reasoning.

He said that he was not concerned about knowing the truth about his boss.

Ogbonnaya said, “After the incident, he called me and said he needed to explain some things about what I witnessed.

“He told me that the girl was challenging him out of jealousy. He said he was sleeping with her and that it was the lady who requested for it.

“He claimed that she once told him that she was horny and that because he did not want her to go out and sin, he decided to help her by ‘relieving’ her with sex.”

Ogbonnaya said he later went to meet the young woman to challenge her about her action towards his boss.

He said the revelation the girl made shocked him.

Ogbonnaya revealed that Roland had been having anal sex with the young ladies in the camp.

He said, “The lady told me that her female counterparts in the group were complaining that the anal sex he practised was affecting their anuses. They were having sores all the time.

“She caught them discussing about the pain in their anuses. That was why she decided to confront him. He forced some of the girls to kiss him and perform oral sex on him. But it got to a point that many of the ladies did it willingly. Only few had to be forced to do it.”

He explained that despite the consistent anal sex, the young ladies could not run away because he allegedly enslaved them mentally.

According to Ogbonnaya, despite the revelation from Abi, he was still loyal to Roland to the point that if he had instructed him to kill the young lady in order to silence her, he would have done it without question.

“There were times he asked me to beat people up or slap them. He once asked me to slap some ladies very hard because they were depressed over the way he was having sex with them all the time.

“He was trying to bring them out of their depression and said the slap was the best way. That is why he took me along to anywhere he went to.”

Ogbonnaya said every member of the group was taught to interprete everything they see spiritually even when the truth was staring them in the face.

“He told us not to ever try to process things in our head but to view everything spiritually. He also told each person to watch the other to prevent us from ganging up against him.

Ogbonnaya explained that Roland had mastered the art of brainwashing people.

According to him, on a daily basis, they prayed for at least six hours, speaking in tongues alone.

“He told us that we should only pray in tongues and think of what we want in our minds.

“By the time the prayer was over, we would be so convinced of whatever he told us. We called ourselves ‘rebels’.

“If he had handed us weapons to go and kill, we would have done so without question. He said whatever we did in the name of Jesus was right.

Ogbonnaya explained that he would deliver a long mind-bending sermon that would twist their thinking.

He said, “He could talk about how Ruth followed Naomi despite the fact that the latter had nothing for about six hours. Then, he would give us a break of one hour to meditate on what he said. After that, he would say, ‘You people can leave me alone. I am not forcing you to follow me. That reinforced our loyalty to him the more.

“He brainwashed us by first telling us things that we could easily believe, he then moved to the stage of telling us that we needed to go deeper in our faith. He said going deep in faith comes with responsibilities and to join him in ruling the world like God had promised him, we must be willing to make sacrifices.

“He said he was the one who would present the world to God and that anybody who did not believe in him would perish.”

Roland’s followers became so loyal to him to the point of not just servicing his sexual appetite but also begging for alms on the street to feed him, it was learnt.

His followers, both male and female would dress up ‘corporately’ and beg for money at the Adedoyin Street, Kosofe, Lagos, where he was based before relocating due to inability to pay rent.

Ogbonnaya said, “On Adedoyin Street in Kosofe, we are very popular as Roland’s followers who would wear suit and beg people around there for money.

“If you go to the Redeemed Camp at Mowe and ask at Shiloh Apartment, they would tell you how we lodged there and ran away with their money. If you go to Tantalizers at the Redeemed camp too, they would tell you how we went there to beg for food. We once ate there and had to submit our phones as collateral when we could not pay.

“He collected all the money we had. He would say he was giving us an opportunity to use our faith. He said if we had money, we would not be able to use our faith.”

According to Ogbonnaya, Roland frequently billed his followers various sums of money like N2,000, N3,000.

According to him, he might tell them to go get him pepper soup and yoghurt by any means and they would be forced to go into the street to beg for money.

He said, “Sometimes, he could say there was need to rent a hall and he would order us to go and find the money anyway we could. He turned us to slaves and beggars.

“Sometimes, he would send a message to all of us. It would read: ‘6am, 25c, N3,000’. That was an instruction for each of us to get N3,000 each to him by 6am the following day. He was living at Block 25c at the Redeemed Camp along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway at the time because he could not afford a proper apartment.

“We would all start looking for N3,000 each. We would call our parents, families and friends and lie to them just to be able to get the money.

“Sometimes when we got the amount demanded, we would have nothing left for transport. We would have to board public transport and beg the conductor to give us free rides or passengers to pay for us.

“At other times, we trekked long distances just to get the money to him. If you did not get the money, he would make you feel so bad that you would feel like committing suicide.

“He told us whatever we did in the name of Jesus was right and he always had copious quotes from the scripture to back himself up.”

Ogbonnaya also revealed that Roland told each of his members to stop counting their ages.

He added that he had so brainwashed his female followers that they all believed they were going to marry him.

He also told our correspondent that each of the man’s followers took various forms of oaths.

He recounted a strange incident when Roland demanded the “lights” of each male member.

Ogbonnaya said, “We did this by making a gesture of taking something from our heart and putting it in a cup. Each of us who were men repeated the action. He then drank from the cup.”

Finally, late in 2016, Ogbonnaya broke free from a decade of subservience to Roland.

According to him, he started having doubts when he realised that he was suffering deeply.

According to him, he hardly got food to eat while he could do anything to give money to his boss.

He said he just ran away from where Roland housed them in a remote part of Mowe.

But he said few weeks after he left, he went back to Roland crying and begging for the pastor to take him back.

“I was still under his influence. It was after that that I realised I was in serious bondage and I had to find a way to report to the security agencies what we were going through,” Ogbonnaya said.

Some of the young women liberated from Roland’s camp are still in rehabilitation.

The Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Lagos State Command, Mr. Tajudeen Balogun whose men raided the camp, said Roland had been handed over to the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and other related offences.

Zonal Commander of NAPTIP, Mr. Joseph Famakin, said investigation was still ongoing on the extent of Roland’s crime.

Chief Priests Turn Against Their Human Trafficker ‘Friends’ In Benin

In a funny twist of events, to fight human trafficking, NAPTIP, Benin Zonal Command have enlisted the support of chief priests in Ayelala shrines, Edo State, in order to combat the crime.


The agency went on social media with pictures saying:


“It is no secret that one of the control mechanisms employed by traffickers over their victims is the use of voodoo and oath-taking, usually at Ayelala shrines in Edo State. This voodoo is meant to instill fear into them and keep them loyal at all costs,”



“In light of the above, NAPTIP Benin Zonal Command felt the need to sensitize the priests at the shrines, with the aim of enlisting their support to stop this menace. This effort is already yielding fruits as some of the chief priests have turned to anti human trafficking ambassadors.”




How Human Trafficking Victims’ Future Dimmed

By Sola Jacobs

“Dofi” is her real name, but her trafficker re-christened her “Blessing “and asked her to stick to the name, as she was tutored in a suburb of Irewole Local Government, which serves as dispersal unit of children who are used as labour. The unit is being run by a Benionise woman, who according to her, is married to a Benue man, who is a farmer in the locality.

This was revealed during the OSUN DEFENDER visit to the suburb in company of a woman who had always patronise the trafficker in search of domestic housemaids for its clients in Osogbo and other major towns in the state.

Investigations revealed that there are several points in the state serving as dispersal units for the trafficked children from within and outside Nigeria whose parents voluntarily released to traffickers for economic gains, as such children are either orphan, indigents or termed stubborn children by their parents.

According to the woman who was simply identified as Mama Lucky, in an interactive session with OSUN DEFEDER reporter, who also posed as a client in need a housemaid, most of the parents or guardians that are giving children to her for the illicit business were either unable to meet the basic needs of those children, hence there is a need to give them out as house helps, shop attendants and helping hands.

It was further gathered that in most cases, those children are out of school and are helping their parents on farm during planting season, after which they are given out for house helps in cities and towns, only to be returned to their localities for another farming season.

The medium gathered that the operators of the illicit business have an association, who are either farmers in the village and remotest place or engaging in commercial cycle business, while some of their mistresses operates beer parlour or drinking joints, which serve as dispersal units or offices.

Further investigation revealed that such dispersal units are situated in Ilobu, Ifewara, Ipetu-Ijesa, Osu and Oke-Ila area amongst others.

It was gathered that most of the operators are non-indigene of the state but because of availability of fertile land for farming operations and lumbering activities, they settled in those remote parts to indulge in the illicit trade.

On terms of agreement before a child can be handed over to an individual who want their patronage, the operator often demand for the transport fare of the ward, as well demand for their consultation fees, while a year fees must be paid upfront, when the person is satisfied with the boy or girl presented.

It was gathered that both sexes were available to the client as demands, but with a caveat such child must not be sent to school, as he or she is entitled to stay the client for only a year, after which the contract would be renewed. Such a child might be taken out of the household and replaced with another child.

Mama Lucky, as popularly called could not but confided in the medium that “these days our business is becoming more dangerous as the law enforcement agents are always on our trails and this takes more of our gain”.

The medium further queried whether she was once caught or questioned by the law enforcement agent, and she affirmed that she had been interrogated once by the anti-human trafficking unit of Nigeria Police Force in Osogbo, but was left off the hook afterward.

Sunday, a native of Benue State, aged 14 who serves as a house assistant in a home in Dada Estate, Osogbo told this medium that, “this is the third house in which he will be serving in the state, as I dropped out of the school after my father’s death in a communal clash and my mother had seven children in which I am the fifth child”.

He affirmed that he was ready to go back to school, if his link with the household he serves allows the sponsorship his education.

According to him, he did not know the amount paid to his link to the family whom he simply identified as “Uncle Peter”, but appreciated the household he serves, “because they take good care of me”.

In another encounter with Elizabeth, who claimed to be a native of Akwa-Ibom, but has served as domestic maids in several households in Ile-Ife, Ilesha and Osogbo respectively, said she was orphaned at the age of eight and now she is 18.

“I have had many experiences both good and ugly but it is not too good to be an housemaid. I thank God that now I had learned a trade through the help of the household where I served and I am being treated like one of their own, but I had to fight my Aunty who serves as our link, because she enjoyed the economic gain by shifting me from one house to the other which I refused. This earned me the opportunity to be trained as fashion designer with the help of the household in which I am serving and they had promised to set me up after the completion of my training”.

A police source at the anti-human trafficking unit affirmed the presence of human traffickers in the area aforementioned in the state, especially in rural communities of the state who poses as farmers, but in real sense they are human traffickers.

The source said, “In most cases, they are arrested but their cases died a natural death due to the inability to get witnesses or some intervention from well-meaning members of the society, as the elites women are the culprit who needed this hands to take care of their house or stay with their aged parents”.

He also said on several occasions, the illegal migrants recruited outside the country for house help jobs often bolt away with the valuables of their employers or gradually pilfering their valuables, and deposit it with neighbours or elsewhere.

Police source condemned the acts and agreed on the need to amend the lacuna in the responsibilities and duties of parents and guardian as stated in the Child Right Law, domesticated in the state which among others stated that “a child must work for the growth and development of his/her family” i.e. assist them in point of need, as this portion has made it impossible to prosecute the matter before law court.

She affirmed that even in some cases when an underage is arrested for street hawking, the same section is being quoted.

He however hinted that child trafficking cases in Osun had reduced to its barest minimum, as cases of ritual killings had scared off the operators who did not want to risk been charged for murder and other grievous crimes which might lead to life sentences.

She stressed that the establishment of NAPTIP office in Osogbo, the war against human trafficking will be won but not without advocacy, sensitization, proper community policing, synergy with NGOS group in the state and blocking the lacuna in the Child Right Law through legislative process, as well as collaboration of the member of the public.

Horrible Lives of Nigerian Girls Trafficked to Italy, By Maggie Neil

Disheveled, barefoot and bleary-eyed, the Nigerian girls are some of the first to walk off the boats. A dream realised; they arrive in Europe — though the scene is anything but romantic.

Caskets are carried off, carrying those who didn’t survive the two-day journey across the Mediterranean, from Libya to the Sicilian port of Palermo. Babies wail and those sick and burned from the effects of the gasoline mixed with saltwater stumble towards the medical tent.

The Nigerian girls are given a plastic bag containing a litre of water, a piece of fruit and a sandwich. They’re ushered to a vinyl tent for “vulnerabili” — the vulnerable ones.

For at least 30 years, Nigerian women have been trafficked into Europe for sex work, but numbers have spiked recently. In 2014, the trickle of a few hundred women a year grew to nearly 1,500. The following year, it increased again to 5,600. In 2016, at least 11,009 Nigerian women and girls arrived on Italian shores.

These women used to arrive on planes with visas. Now, they come the “back way” — the smuggling route that has developed across Africa to bring hundreds of thousands of Africans to Europe.

Women make up a smaller percentage of total African arrivals to Europe, and aid response for them has been slow and misguided. Although the International Organization of Migration estimates that 80 percent of Nigerian females coming to Europe are trafficked, aid workers have no way of telling those seeking opportunity from those forced against their will. They hand out flyers warning against trafficking.

Time is of the essence: If officials can establish trust, girls who have not been trafficked may be less likely to become ensnared in sex work once they are in Europe. And those who were trafficked are more likely to supply details that reveal that they have been trafficked, allowing the IOM to refer them to Italy’s national anti-trafficking network, or local prosecutors, who can help them get international protection.

In the best-case scenario, they are placed in a safe house run by nuns or an NGO, which is supposed to house them for up to three years and try to integrate them into European life with school and job training, with the goal of becoming independent.

That’s the ideal scenario — but it rarely happens. Safe houses are built for a dozen women — there aren’t nearly enough to take in the thousands of women arriving.

Traffickers know this.

Before leaving for Italy, Nigerian traffickers give the girls and women a phone number for a madam, and tell them to call as soon as they arrive. Madams are older Nigerian women, sometimes former prostitutes themselves, who have climbed the organisational ranks. A younger male is also involved, working for the madam by following, watching and accompanying the young women.

After arriving, the Nigerian women are taken with other asylum-seekers to facilities around Italy, built to house them as they await their documents. Teeming with people from Nigeria, The Gambia, Eritrea and elsewhere, many of whom have been there more than a year, they’re allowed to come and go, and use cell phones.

“Madams actually recruit inside the big immigration centres,” explains Tiziana Bianchini, who works for Lotta Contro l’Emarginazione, a Milan-based organisation with an anti-trafficking mission. This means that girls who may not have been trafficked run the risk of falling into criminal networks once they are in Italy.

Peace is one teen girl who, in 2013 at the age of 17, migrated by boat to Sicily and was brought to CARA of Mineo, the largest refugee camp in Europe. Located in Sicily’s eastern province of Catania, the centre, once an American military base, houses more than 3,000 men and women. It has become notorious for its dubious finances and for giving residents cigarettes instead of the payments they are entitled to under Italian law.

While she still lived in the camp, Peace stopped a Nigerian man on a street nearby, and asked to borrow his phone. She dialled the number she had been told to, and spoke to the Nigerian woman on the other line. Within days she was a sex worker. “Once you make the call, you’re off. You never go back to the camp,” she says.

I met her earlier this year in a small room in Sicily where church services are held, several months after she left the street.

She’s an energetic, fast-talking, smiley young woman, whose youthful stature is nonetheless marked by a distinct confidence. She wears her hair up high, with a long braid hanging down her back, bouncing as she walks and talks in the glaring Sicilian sunlight.

Peace isn’t her real name — it’s an alias we agreed to use because she still lives in fear of her traffickers, or that she’ll be deported. Or of repercussions for her family because she didn’t finish repaying her debt.

Trafficking officials would call her a typical victim: She grew up in Benin City, in the heart of Nigeria’s poor, rural southwestern Edo State, a major source of trafficked sex workers in Europe. She’s the eldest girl from a large family — and older girls are the most likely to be trafficked. Her mother died when Peace was 16, and her father “was not caring.”

She decided to leave, feeling the pressure of needing to help her family financially, and escaping from a situation that was hurting her.

When a woman approached her, telling her she was beautiful and asking if she wanted to go to Europe, Peace agreed. She knew she’d have to work on the street, and she knew she would need to pay the woman 30,000 euros once she arrived in Europe. She completed what Nigerians call the “juju oath,” an animist, spiritual contract in which the girl agrees to be brought to Europe, and binds herself to her debt with bits of her pubic hair and blood.

The ritual is taken extremely seriously — and violation is considered justification for murder of a girl or her family.

“Back then, I just thought, f*** it,” said Peace.

Languishing in the camps

The lax oversight at these migrant centres has led to calls for a different response to migrant arrivals in Italy. The centres, which Italians call “welcome homes” and the people inside call “camps,” were Italy’s stop-gap solution to provide recent arrivals with housing as they awaited their documents or the result of their applications for international protection.

A process that was supposed to take a couple of months now lasts years, while applicants languish in overcrowded centres, often in the middle of nowhere.

“Italy was completely unable to create a national program to deal with the arrivals from Africa,” said Bianchini, explaining that the responsibility lies with understaffed and underfunded local governments, who end up outsourcing the oversight of these camps to private organisations, “making contracts with whoever.”

This means there is little oversight or transparency. Much of the staff operating these centres speak little to no English (nor French nor Arabic for that matter), the centres are overcrowded, and the people inside of them tend to be given little access to information on Italy’s legal system.

When I visited one centre, many people asked me if they should try to get to France. Rumour has it that it’s increasingly tough to cross the borders out of Italy.

“The Italian system of housing asylum-seekers is completely inadequate for victims of trafficking,” Bianchini added, noting that women in general, but especially victims of trafficking, require specific psychological and educational support that these centres are unable to provide.

Every so often, law enforcement officials in Italy decide it’s time for a sweep and deport Nigerian women back to Nigeria, where they run the risk of being re-trafficked.

“Forcibly returning the girls to Nigeria would be another heavy violence against them,” explains Sister Valeria Gandini, a missionary nun who eight years ago founded Palermo’s Street Unity, a group of lay and religious volunteers who visit the women on the street each week. “Sooner or later, they will meet the same people who betrayed them and brought them to Europe the first time around.”

Deportation rumours often spur more women to run away.

Impossible to pay

Another young Nigerian woman who ran away from her camp, only to wind up on the street, is Favour — again, not her real name. When I met her, she had a big, warm smile beneath a fashionable knit cap.

Like Peace, Favour is from Edo State, though from the more rural area, outside of the city. Before she agreed to seal the oath, Favour asked the woman who approached her if she was going to Europe to “do prostitution.” It was only once the woman assured her that she would be working in a shop that Favour agreed.

She was told the money would be easy to come by once she was in Europe.

When she first arrived at the madam’s house, Favour was exhausted. She slept for two days. On the third day, the woman said it was time to go to work.

In addition to the 30,000 euros she had to pay off, she would have to pay 80 euros a week for food, 250 euros a month for the rent, as well as the gas and electric bills. Favour was ready: OK, no problem. Just show me the shop, she said.

First, the woman took her shopping. They bought clothes that Favour says she “didn’t understand.” A few days later, the woman said she was ready for work. They took bus after bus, and then they walked. She found herself in the “bush,” standing on the side of the road. She was told to put on different clothes, clothes she had bought earlier with the woman, and that were now tucked inside the bag she had brought.

When it finally dawned on her what she would have to do, Favour cried. She cried all day, and for many days she refused to work. When she went home with nothing, the woman would beat her. After some time, she felt she had no choice, and she gave in.

In Palermo, women and underage girls like Peace and Favour work the streets among the trees lining the busy road of La Favorita, or along the trash- and urine-ridden streets around the port.

They are there six nights, or days, a week, depending on their shifts. As the months get warmer, the clothes get skimpier: see-through tights that reveal a lacy thong, shirts open to reveal naked breasts. They wear wigs directly from Nigeria that cost 20 euros each. Blessing (not her real name), a woman of tiny stature and boundless energy who works on a Palermo street, shows off her fake eyelashes, which can stay on for several weeks

Peace now shares an apartment with an Italian woman whom she helps around the house. In her room, she brushes her hair, smiles often and laughs a lot. She is candid but guarded about her experience working on the street.

“It all depends on the client,” she says. “Sometimes, those clients don’t even want sex so much as they want company, and with them, you try to be jovial, you make them laugh. But then there are the clients who don’t want to pay you, the clients who are aggressive. Those are the bad clients.” Peace can talk about it without showing too much emotion, but she is reluctant to go too deep. She would like to go back to Nigeria eventually, but for now, she feels pressure to make money, either for herself or her family — she wasn’t clear.

Favour’s experiences were worse. Once, a client knifed her. Another time, two men who approached her gave her a bad feeling. “Via,” she told them. “I’m not working tonight.” “You must,” they replied, before slapping her and dragging her into a room in a local train station. She cried a lot as she told her story. When she came to, she said she asked the first person she found to bring her to the hospital.

After that, she decided to get out.

Getting out

The Street Unity group in the town where she was working had been asking her for months if she wanted out. Street Unity groups, like that established by Sister Valeria in Palermo, approach the girls offering medical support, and in the case of the religious groups, prayer.

The Nigerian women are extremely religious (there is no one in Nigeria, Peace once said, who can honestly say that they don’t believe in God), and prayer is often a source of bonding. Once the connections have been established, the groups can be a way off of the street — a difficult and uneasy step.

Sicily has a 22-percent unemployment rate, high even by Italian standards. The only jobs available to Nigerian women are in cleaning or taking care of the elderly or children. But these jobs require Italian language skills, and they don’t come with guarantees of good payment or treatment.

As Sister Valeria sees it, “the women who are victims of trafficking, who have been forced into sex work for years, who are in the end destroyed, physically and psychologically — what future can they have here?”

Against all odds, Peace one day decided she would leave. It was a scary decision, because of the juju oath she had made back in Nigeria. Article 18 of Italy’s Consolidated Immigration Act provides protection and temporary residence permits to victims of trafficking who denounce their traffickers or madams, or who show visible signs of being in immediate psychological or physical danger.

But Peace, like many of these women, refused to take this route. Denouncing her madam or her trafficker would be the biggest violation of her oath. “I’m protected, in Europe,” she explains, “but I have to think about my family.”

Back in Nigeria, it would be easy for them to be killed or badly hurt. And, there is the fear of going crazy. She talks about her friend, Mary, who convinced a whole group of girls to denounce their madam. Mary has since gone “totally wacko” — a problem, Peace explains, that is not psychological but spiritual, linked directly to the effects of the juju oath.

Peace and Favour are moving on with their lives. Peace attends classes in Italian, sewing and cooking. She sings in her town gospel choir, and helps organise meetings in her church’s community, where she leads discussions about work opportunities and community empowerment.

Favour lives in a safe house in northern Italy. She is also taking Italian classes, and the operators taking care of her are working hard to find her job opportunities so she can be independent one day. Peace says she’s thankful for her experiences. She feels she has grown, and says it’s for this reason that she does not think of herself as a victim (though she admits that she can say this only because she is no longer on the street).

Favour, for her part, calls herself “a very big victim,” but she is looking forward, too.

* Maggie Neil is a writer and researcher based in Italy, focusing on trafficking and migration thanks to a Fulbright research grant. She reported this story with the assistance of The Fuller Project for International Reporting.

Nigerian Doctor And wife In London Charged For Human Trafficking

A Nigerian doctor and her husband have been accused of trafficking a Nigerian woman to the UK before making her work 18-hour shifts and beating her when she asked for higher wages.

Dr. Ayodeji Adewakun, 44, and Abimbola Adewakun, 48, are alleged to have paid babysitter Iyabo Olatunji, just £20 a week for looking after their two young children at home in Erith, south east London.
Ms. Olatunji, 37, told Southwark Crown Court on Monday, May 8th, that she was also made to work long arduous days cleaning their house before staying late and cooking the couple dinner. She claims that when she asked for higher wages and was slapped by the couple.
The couple allegedly persuaded Iyambo Olatunji to leave her home in Nigeria to look after their two young children at their three-bedroom home in Erith, southeast London, in 2004. Ms. Olatunji, who had worked as a secretary for the local government in Nigeria, was forced to work 18-hour shifts cleaning the house and to share a bed with the youngest child. She also worked for Mr. Adewakun’s pastor father as a househelp in the 1990s.

Ms Olatunji, who did not have her own bank account, was originally promised a £450 monthly salary over a 15-month period, jurors heard.She told the court Ayodeji, or ‘Aunty Ayo’, ‘said she would look after me’.

She told the court Ayodeji, or ‘Aunty Ayo’, ‘said she would look after me’.

“She said I would be fine. She said she would pay me money, a salary. The salary would have been higher than the one I was earning in the local government.”

The Kent-based doctor promised her new childminder £450 per month in a contract signed by the couple and Ms. Olatunji which also set out a range of terms and conditions of her employment which began when she arrived in February 2004.
They included caring for couple’s two young children ‘at times agreed in advance’ during working hours ‘stipulated as Monday to Saturday’ six days per week between 7am and 5pm.
Ms Olatunji denied she was made aware of any duties expected of her outside of her babysitting role and added that she had never even had a bank account set up for her to receive her wages into.
‘I told Aunty Ayo ‘I do not have one’ but she just said ‘I have plans for you’,’ she added.
She said Ayodeji’s brother accompanied her to the British Embassy in Nigeria to get her passport and held onto it until they landed in the UK.
When she first arrived at the three-bedroom house she met the couple’s Hungarian au pair who showed her the children’s nursery, school and local park before leaving a week later with ‘a bad attitude’.
Jurors heard Dr Adewakun spotted Ms Olatunji chatting to the au pair and raged ‘Are you listening to her? She is not happy you are here because she is leaving.
“She is not a good au pair.” he said.
The court heard Ms Olatunji, who came to the UK with just five Nigerian Naira in her pocket, was not even treated to a t-shirt she liked during a family holiday to Euro Disney.
On their return, she claimed she was made to get up at 6am to get the children fed and off to school before tidying the home during the day and preparing meals for the evening.
“I am not sleeping at 8pm or 9pm – it is midnight,”said Ms Olatunji.
She recalled that the doctor and her husband sometimes did not return home from work until well after 10pm.
“Sometimes she would speak nicely to me – 25% nice to me, 75% anger,’ Ms Olatunji said. “She did not pay me. Both of them did not pay me, they just gave me £20 on Friday
She was even told a landline call to her parents back home was ‘too expensive’ and spent some of her wages on Africa Tel calling cards.
Ms Olatunji said she was slapped three times by the doctor when she asked for more money.
The first occasion, coinciding with her birthday, was documented in a diary she kept, which also detailed the lax payment schedule. Jurors heard the babysitter wrote:
“Aunty fight with me today.She slapped my face twice.. The day I will never forget in my life – the first time in history that somebody has slapped my face.”
Ms Olatunji claimed she was assaulted again twice before she reported her situation to Mrs Adewakun’s mother.
Dr Adewakun and her husband Abimbola, both deny obtaining services by deception and trafficking a person into the UK for exploitation.
Mrs Adewakun further denies assaulting Ms Olatunji and two further counts of fraud and trafficking a person into the UK for exploitation in relation to a second victim.
The trial continues.

Mother Of 7 Bags 6 Years For Human Trafficking

Edo State High Court, Benin, has sentenced a 58-year-old mother of seven, Mrs. Joy Raji, to six years imprisonment for human trafficking.
She was arraigned on a three-count charge of deceitful inducement, forced labour and slave dealings, contrary to the provisions of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act, 2013, as amended. She was alleged to have trafficked an 18-year-old-girl who worked as an artist designer in Benin City to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, for exploitative purposes.

She was alleged to have trafficked an 18-year-old-girl who worked as an artist designer in Benin City to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, for exploitative purposes.
She was also alleged to have collaborated with her brother, Evans Aghahowa (now at large), and introduced to the victim the idea of travelling to Kuwait for supposed better living.
Various sums of money were said to have been collected from the victim’s mother, Mrs. Mary Osula, who is a trader, to facilitate the trip.
The accused, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against her.
At the trial, prosecutor for the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffickng in Persons called three witnesses and tendered exhibits, including a slave uniform passport, travel tickets and bank teller, to prove its case.
According to the victim, who testified in court, she was sold from one person to another without proper care in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
She said  in Kuwait, “a certain man took me to a 20-storey building and I was locked up inside. I was not given food; I ate from remnants I could find. When I complained, the man told me that he paid 750 Kuwait dinar to purchase me.”
The victim was later resold to a woman in Saudi Arabia, who kept giving her work to do without food and not letting her go out of the house. She was held in bondage in two countries and her life and liberty were under the absolute control of her ‘Oga’ and ‘Madam.’ She ran away once to the police in Kuwait but was returned to the madam who purchased her.

Edo State Delivering judgment, Justice Alero Edodo Eruaga found the accused guilty and sentenced her to four years imprisonment on the first count and two years imprisonment on count two without the option of fine.  The sentences are to run concurrently.
NAPTIP had last month secured the conviction of three human traffickers in Edo State, who were sentenced to two years imprisonment each, for trafficking two female secondary school students, aged 16 and 18 years, to Cote d’Ivoire for prostitution, contrary to the provisions of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act.

Source: SunNews