Wednesday, November 4, 2015 7:52 am
AIG Bala Hassan head of the Nigeria Police Zone 2 Command, Onikan, Lagos, has paraded two suspects and 16 foreigners comprising of three Ghanaians and 13 Togolese, all victims of human trafficking in Lagos at the command’s headquarters Onikan.
He said that the suspects and the victims were inside a vehicle preparing to move to Akwa-Ibom from where they would ferry them to Gabon before they were arrested.
“On Oct. 13, men of the Anti-Human Trafficking, Zone 2, Onikan, accosted 16 victims of human trafficking at about 10 a.m. at Maza-Maza, around Mile 2 in Lagos.
“Among those arrested are three Ghanaians, 13 Togolese and two Nigerians who we believe to be involved in human trafficking of these foreigners.
“The trafficking routes commence from Ghana, passing through Togo and then to Nigeria.
“The idea is to carry them to Gabon where they will be sold to those waiting for them for either prostitution or to be used as slaves,’’ Hassan said.
“Among the victims are 10 girls, six males and the purpose of this is to traffic them to Gabon. From interrogation we discovered that the innocent victims are being trafficked.
“They were arrested and brought to the headquarters and as soon as investigation is completed, they will be handed over to NAPTIP for appropriate action.
“From our investigation, they were told that they want to go and secure them jobs or better their condition in life.
“And when we asked them why they have to go on a journey to the unknown, some of them said it’s because they are poor.
“Poverty should not be a license for this. Look at them now, you can see they are as young as 13, and they will be sent into prostitution or slavery which has been banned several years ago.’’
Hassan noted that they might never return to their families and for some of them who capitalised on their sweat to get illicit money, they didn’t know where they were carrying them to, even though they thought they are for better life.
“At the end of the tunnel, they may be the loosers because they may sell them into prostitution or for other unlawful purposes.
“Investigations have been completed for now and by tomorrow morning, we are sending them to NAPTIP so that they will continue from there.
“We know that the route now is around that Maza-Maza; when a vehicle comes from Badagary, definitely they will pass through there, so there is more vigilance along the route.
“There is also vigilance along the Akwa-Ibom route because it is from there they ferry them to Gabon.
“We are maintaining vigilance and wherever security men see children of this nature, they should always ask questions,’’ he said.
Hassan said that once the police were not sure of their destination, they would be brought for interrogation and when the purpose was that of trafficking, the law should take its course.
“The vigilance of the police and information from good members of the public, however, led to their arrest.
“After we arrested them, the perpetrators were also arrested. They have their counterparts in Ghana, Togo and Gabon.
“They must have been communicating with them and monitoring their movement, I’m sure the person in Gabon is waiting for them by now since they have not come, going to 4 days.
“He may either disappear into space. But the NAPTIP has facilities to cross the boarder, get them and make sure they are brought to book,’’ the AIG said.
He advised Nigerians to desist from the act as there are other lawful activities to get engaged in apart from human trafficking.
He also asked parents to be mindful of whoever they release their children to on the promises of getting them better life some where else.
“We shouldn’t exploit the poverty of people for our own selfish interest and parents should be wary of the person coming to carry our children from the village to get them job.
“In the long run, they might end up not doing any job, they might end up taking them to brothels.
“And they may also end up with people that will use them as housemaids while their own children are going to the best schools.’’ he said.
One of the suspects, Winima Ekpo, 41, a transporter from Akwa Ibom, said that this was the second time he would be taking passengers from Mile 2 to Akwa Ibom for one Baba Ibeji who is now at large.
“The first time he paid N35, 000 for 11 people but they all have their passports with them but the second time we agreed for N55, 000.
“We transport people from Badagry to Akwa Ibom.
“On Friday when my driver was about taking the people to Akwa Ibom, my driver called me that he was arrested by the police.
“I am not the driver, I’m the owner of the transport business,’’ he said.
The other suspect, Godwin Samuel, 41, who drove the bus, said that this was the second time he would drive people to Akwa Ibom and that he got to know they did not have passports when they were arrested.
One of the victims, Esther Tigbegulo, 25, a Togolese, said her aunt invited her to Gabon and she did not know how to go about it.
“So, she decided to travel by any route before she met the man that took them from Togo to Seme and eventually to Mile 2 before they were arrested.
A 42-year-old widow, Eku, also a victim, said that their was no work in Togo and her sister told her to come to Gabon to get a better job.
She said that she did not know she was travelling illegally, adding that she was only travelling because of the suffering in Togo.