Nigeria’s Attorney General, Mr Abubakar Malami, says the government is looking to strengthen cooperation on justice reforms with Italy.
Mr Malami had on August 4 held on a meeting with an Italian delegation led by the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Paolo Gentlioni Silveri.
At the meeting Mr Malami stated that the underlying factors attendant to human trafficking, criminality and migration were issues of terrorism and corruption.
Incidents Of Human Trafficking
A statement by the spokesman for the Attorney General, Comrade Salihu Othman Isah, said that the meeting was part of the final process of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that both countries would sign to strengthen cooperation between their judicial systems.
Malami, who is also the Minister of Justice in Nigeria, emphasised the need for effective cooperation in order to reduce the incidents of human trafficking and other associated crimes.
He explained that unemployment in Nigeria had been a major cause of incessant migration of Nigerians to Italy.
He informed the Italian delegation that agreements between Nigeria and Italy had already been negotiated and was ready for execution in Mutual Legal Assistance, Transfer of Prisoners and Extradition Agreements.
He further urged them to identify the timeline and venue for the execution of the agreements.
The Minister expressed appreciation to the Italian Government for its support to its Nigerian counterpart, in particular, as well as the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), requesting further assistance to strengthen NAPTIP skills and capacity.
The Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation affirmed that they were perfectly aware of the connection between criminality, human trafficking and migration.
He advised that the Attorney General of the Federation could seize the opportunity to decide on the finalisation of the agreements, on the three issues raised at the meeting.
Mr Silveri further stressed that they were in the Ministry to seek collaborative efforts with the Nigerian Government in order to strengthen political, economic relationship between Nigeria and Italy, look at how migration especially, migration through Nigeria, Libya and to Italy could be managed and how human trafficking could be controlled.
The House of Representatives has passed through the second reading, a bill seeking to end trafficking in persons and sale of new born babies.
The bill, if passed to law, would end harbouring of pregnant persons under the age of 18 years as well as selling or attempting to sell new-born babies in the country.
Eddie Mbadiwe, who is sponsoring the bill, described human trafficking as a serious crime which deserves to be punished by the law. To fight the menace, the lawmaker proposed a 10-year jail term for the offender.
The second legislative arm is, however, amending the Trafficking in Persons (prohibition) Law Enforcement Act 2004.
This is in a bid to check the growing cases of what has come to be known in some parts of the country as baby production factory where pregnant young ladies are kept and their newly born babies are sold off.
The bill was supported unanimously by lawmakers in the House. It has been referred to the Committee on Human Rights and Justice for further legislative work.
Three Nigerians, Olusoji Oluwafemi, 44, Johnson Olayinka, 45, and Florence Obadiaru, 48, have been jailed for a total of 13 years in the United Kingdom for being the London connection in a global trafficking conspiracy.
In a report by Mail Online, dozens of women are being smuggled into Britain as sex slaves every year under the threat of black magic curses, it was revealed Friday night.
Police are increasingly concerned at the threat of international trafficking rings who target vulnerable and poor African women.
They believe that ‘close to all’ the 160 Nigerian victims rescued last year had been subjected to sinister rituals aimed at terrifying them into submission.
Many were taken to witchdoctors who cut them, rubbed black powder in their wounds and threatened them with death if they ran away from their captors.
In some cases young women were forced to sleep in coffins, drink chicken hearts, soaked in alcohol, or ‘sacrifice’ intimate items.
The disturbing reality of the little known crime emerged as three evil human smugglers were jailed for a total of 13 years.
Olusoji Oluwafemi, 44, Johnson Olayinka, 45, and Florence Obadiaru, 48, were the London connection in a global trafficking conspiracy.
They conned an innocent 23-year-old into flying to Heathrow on a bogus passport with the promise of education, a job and a new home.
But instead she was raped, beaten and subjected to a ‘juju’ ritual before being sent to Italy where she was destined to be pimped out on the streets as a prostitute.
The victim’s terrible ordeal was only uncovered when officials in Milan spotted her forged passport and sent her back to London where she was saved by police.
Last night, Liam Vernon, of the National Crime Agency (NCA), said her experience is typical of many other Nigerian victims.
He said: ‘This isn’t a phenomenon that is just affecting Britain, it is a Europe-wide problem. They are moving women around to avoid detection.
‘These rituals are simply a method controlling the women who are from a region where juju is not always seen as necessarily a bad thing.
‘But it is very powerful and there are very strong beliefs that you must adhere to what is said or very bad things will happen to you and your family.’
Investigators believe the 23-year-old victim, who was poorly educated and spoke little English, is just one of many victims of the Nigeria-based organised crime group.
The trio were in constant contact with a shadowy ‘fixer’ woman who prowled poor Nigerian villages looking for young women to exploit.
The woman, who remains at the centre of an international manhunt, also supplied women to another crime gang that was smashed last year.
Investigators discovered that the victim volunteered to travel to London because her family had fallen into hardship since the sudden death of her father in 2008.
She was told that she must repay £40,000 by working in Britain and taken to a witchdoctor to pledge her total obedience to the gang.
The woman swore an oath in a juju ceremony that involved cutting her armpit and pubic hair and taking finger nail clippings.
She flew to Heathrow in September 2011 before spending several weeks at the house of Obadiaru, in Brockley, South East London.
The victim was then provided with a false passport and throwaway mobile phone and sent to Milan where immigration officials turned her away.
On her return it took weeks and several pain-staking interviews before experts from the NCA could understand what had happened to her.
When officers raided Oluwafemi’s home they discovered he was using it as a ‘forgery factory’ and had more than 60 images of fake documents on his laptop.
They built a case against the three traffickers using communication data from their mobile phones which supported her account of their movements and links.
All three defendants were convicted of trafficking the woman for sexual exploitation and arranging for her transfer to Italy.
Mastermind and counterfeiter Oluwafemi, who orchestrated the British side of the operation, was jailed for six-and-a-half years.
Johnson Olayinka, 45, who collected the victim from Heathrow and organised her false UK passport, was jailed for four-and-a-half years.
Florence Obadiaru, 48, who kept the victim at her home in London for two-and-a-half weeks before she left for Italy, was jailed for two years.
She has worked as a care assistant for ten years and has just finished a degree in nursing at Bedford University in Luton.
Judge Rebecca Poulet QC told them: ‘This was a sophisticated and carefully planned operation in Nigeria which must have cost a considerable amount of money to the traffickers.
‘The expected returns were also considerable. She was subjected to a juju ritual with the threat of death.
‘She would have been forced into controlled prostitution as she had no possible way in which she could conceivably support herself in Italy.’
The Plateau State Police Command has arrested two suspects in connection with alleged trafficking of some girls from Bokkos Local Government Area of the state to Port Harcourt in Rivers State.
The Plateau State Commissioner of Police, Chris Alakpe, announced this during a news briefing on the activities of the State Police Command in curbing crime wave in the state.
One of the suspects, Mr Naphtali Zabade, believed he was only earning a honest livelihood as he claimed to have gotten parental consent of the girls he took out of town to Port Harcourt for menial jobs.
He told Channels Television that he had been erroneously arrested as he was a missionary from a Christian organization helping the girls to build a future.
He claimed that he was shocked by allegations that he was taking the girls out for prostitution in Port Harcourt, as the people he was taking them to were Christians who would not do such a thing.
According to him, he had taken some of the girls’ sisters out in the past and they were all doing well. This he said earned him the trust of the girls’ parents who simply want a better life for their kids.
The hands of the law, however, caught up with him on the allegations of child trafficking, and for the Plateau State Police Command, Mr Zabade had crossed the red line, for trafficking 5 girls from Plateau State for menial jobs.
He may have to face the wrath of the law if found guilty.
Other suspects paraded by the Plateau Police Command were being accused of various offences including inciting violence and unlawful possession of dangerous weapons, as well as robbery.
The ECOWAS commission has commenced plans to establish a regional communication network that will help fight human trafficking and promote child protection in the sub region.
This effort is coming in view of the security crisis in different states in the region which the commission says leave women and children exposed to dangers of deprivation and forced labour.
The ECOWAS Director of Humanitarian and Social Affairs, Dr Dianel Eklu said nations must be made to assume responsibility for the protection of this vulnerable section of their societies, through agenda setting by the media, demands on accountability and promotion of alliances.
A new report by the United States Department of State has fingered funding, weak legislation and poor law enforcement as some of the issues hindering the fight against human trafficking in Nigeria.
The report also revealed that while the Nigerian government has made efforts in eliminating trafficking in persons, there were a number of standards yet to be complied with.
The report says “In 2012, a total number of 60 girls aged 16-25 were rescued from slave masters in Ghana and Ivory Coast.While in 2011, 104 Nigerian girls used as sex slaves were evacuated from Mali where they were paid as little as 500 CFAs, that’s N150 for sex”.
In the just released 2013 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report, Nigeria remained in tier 2 status because the “government of Nigeria does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking”.
A voiced press statement from the US embassy commends government’s effort but lists grey areas.
Meanwhile a report that 200 Nigerian girls are trafficked every month to Russia for prostitution was in the news last week.Nigeria’s Ambassador to Russia, Mister Asam Asam told the News Agency of Nigeria that over 240 girls have been deported since 2012.
But the spokesman for the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (NAPTIP), Mr. Arinze Orakwe faulted the findings.
He however describes the US report as a fair assessment that should serve as a wakeup call for Nigeria.
The Executive Secretary of NAPTIP, Beatrice Jedy-Agba, is also concerned about the rehabilitation of rescued victims which in itself is just as important as stopping the crime.
The government has also come under fire for failure to approve draft legislation that would restrict the ability of judges to offer fines in lieu of prison sentence while the Nigerian Police continues to experience difficulty identifying trafficking victims.
An Edo State High Court on Thursday 20th of June sentenced a woman arraigned by NAPTIP to a mere 18 months imprisonment for trafficking young girls to Togo and forcing them into prostitution.
Officers of the Nigerian Army have apprehended some suspected human traffickers at Itobe Bridge in the Ajaokuta area of Kogi state.
Over 250 persons including children, men and women within the age range of 4 to 27yrs were being transported by the bandits in different batches, using commercial buses.
They were on the way to Lagos when they were intercepted and arrested by the soldiers.
A very distraught Commandant of Army Record, Lokoja, Major-General Alphonsus Chukwu, lamented why people will do such a thing to kids of such age grades, describing it as barbaric and criminal.
The Army Commander told Channels Television that further investigation has revealed that the suspected trafficker has being in business of shipping these children from different parts of the country to Lagos for over a decade.
“Our investigations have revealed that he has being in the business for over ten years and you know, every day is for the thief but one day is for the owner”he said.
The suspected trafficker, Sunday Agbo, an indigene of Benue state, initially explained that he was only trying to help convey six boys to their father in Ikorodu, in Lagos.
But his claim ran contrary to the narration of one of the teenage girls being trafficked as she explained in broken English incoherently, that the man-Mr Agbo- took her from her village after the closure of their school and promised to bring her back to the village in December.
When asked what she was to do in Lagos, she replied, “he is carrying me to go do work.”
Mr Agbo later recounted his claim, confessing that “what I did is that if a girl can work for N10,000 they (the employer) will give me my own (commission out of the money) and the rest they will pay it to the person (victim).”
Another suspected trafficker, told Channels Television that some of the children are orphans and they do not have money or any other way to survive, so they agree to go and work in Lagos.
The military intercepted many more victims as the days went by, with children of different age grades, mainly from Benue state being rescued.
When the drivers of buses used for the transportation were questioned, they claimed they were paid to convey the people to states in the South-West part of the country.
Major-General Chukwu later stated that the suspected traffickers would be handed over to the police for prosecution.