By YANGE IKYAA
The renewed onslaught by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) on human traffickers across the country has continued to yield more results, as the operatives of the agency have arrested a middle-aged man, Emmanuel Stephen, for allegedly trafficking his 21-year old girlfriend to Mali for prostitution and sexual exploitation.
As at the time of filing this report, the victim was said to be critically ill and has not been able to access any medical service because of his status as an illegal and undocumented migrant.
It would be recalled that the Director General of NAPTIP, Senator Basheer Garba Muhammed, on assumption of office few months ago, had declared a total war on human traffickers in Nigeria, giving operatives of the agency the marching order to “smoke” them out of the country so as to ensure adequate protection of Nigerians from all forms of trafficking and exploitation.
The latest development came barely two weeks after a notorious trans-border human trafficker was arrested by the combined team of NAPTIP and other sister security agencies in Kano on their way to Libya. During that operation, about 12 victims of human trafficking were also rescued.
The latest arrested suspect, Emmanuel Stephen, an indigene of Akoko, Ondo State, who resides in Karimajiji along the Airport Road, Abuja, was said to have been in a love relationship with the victim, an apprentice in one of the beauty stores in Abuja, since the past two years, with a promise to marry her.
During interrogation, the suspect confessed that his elder sister, who stays in Mali, called him earlier in the year and told him that she had graduated from her “Madam” and requested for a girl to be sent to her.
He stated further that he convinced his girlfriend who agreed and they were later linked up with somebody in Benin City, Edo State, who later arranged the movement of the victim from Nigeria to Mali by road in April 2021. According to him, the sister promised that the girl will help her to work in a beer parlour in Mali.
However, investigation revealed that as soon as the victim arrived Mali, she was sold to another woman for a sum of N1.5 million and was subsequently forced into exploitative prostitution.
Few weeks later, due to the rigorous sexual activities with numerous partners, the victim was said to have developed a strange sickness with other associated health challenges and is presently in serious medical condition.
She is said to have called her family in Nigeria and narrated her ordeal to them, while efforts by the family to bring her back yielded no success, as the victim’s “Madam” insisted on collecting the sum of N1.5 million before she could be released.
Reacting to the development, the NAPTIP DG, expressed sadness over the fate of the victim and promised that his agency will work with other partners, including security Agencies to rescue her.
“I feel sad by the plight of the victim in question and NAPTIP, in partnership with other stakeholders, will do everything possible to rescue her, while we shall continue to heat up all parts of the country to run human traffickers out of their criminal business in Nigeria,” he said.
The NAPTIP boss also appealed to parents to be careful with the type of relationships their children keep, as many amorous relationships like the one that was stage-managed to traffic “this victim” have ended up on a sad note.
“So, let us watch over our Children and desist from giving them endless freedom even at tender age”, Senator Muhammed sent a message of caution to parents.