In its renewed determination to rein-in human trafficking in the country, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has secured additional 13 convictions. These convictions from various Federal High Courts across the country now brings the total convictions so far to 271
The convicted Human traffickers who are at present serving various jail terms, were arrested by operatives of NAPTIP in different locations within the country and subsequently arraigned in Courts.
While Federal High Courts sitting in Sokoto and Uyo, convicted Eight human traffickers and sentenced them to various terms of imprisonment, Six other persons were convicted and sentenced by Federal High Courts sitting in Benin, Ogun and Jos.
In the first legal battle, a Federal High Court sitting in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital in suit No. FHC/AB/78C/13 convicted one Jennifer Ifeoma Umeh and two others who were charged under sections 12(a), 13(a), 15 and 19(a) of the Trafficking in Persons Act 2003 as amended for deceitful inducing three girls for sexual exploitation. While two of the accused were sentenced to 7 years imprisonment, the 3rd accused person was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment without an option of fine.
Just as the euphoria that greeted the conviction was about settling down, a Federal high Court sitting in Jos, Plateau State capital sentenced one other Human Trafficker to 10 years imprisonment without an option of fine. The convict, Apisu Abdullahi was charged under section 19(b) of Trafficking in Persons Act 2003 as amended for deceitful inducement for the purpose of forced labour.
Similarly, a Federal High Court sitting in Benin, the Edo State capital, sentenced one Grace Friday Asuquo Okon to 2 year imprisonment for sexual exploitation.
In the same vein, a Federal high Court sitting in Sokoto State, convicted a three – member- trafficking gang believed to be notorious in trafficking within the Northern part of the country. The convicts, Samuel Osarhiemen (Male 35 yrs), and Efe Bello (Male 41 yrs) were sentenced to 6 years imprisonment respectively while the third person and the only female member of the trafficking ring, Oninomu favour (23yrs) was sentenced to 4 years imprisonment.
In the charge No/ FHC/S/35c/2015, while two of the convicted human traffickers were arraigned on a two- count charge of promotion of foreign travels which promotes prostitution as well as deceitfully inducing the victims to move from one place to another all contrary to section 16 and 19 of the Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Law 2003 as amended, the third convict was sentenced on a one count charge of promotion of foreign travel which promote prostitution. The sentences are to run concurrently.
Also in Sokoto, one Uche Odiechi Sunday who was charged for deceitful inducement for forced labour and sexual exploitation was found guilty and sentenced to six years imprisonment without an option of fine.
In a similar development, two Federal High Court Judges sitting in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, sentenced four convicted human traffickers who were arrested by the Uyo Zonal Command of the Agency.
The convicts, Uduak Lateefah Babatunde (Female 18yrs), Asuquo Etim Jimmy (Male 25 Yrs), Nna Otobong Akpan (Male 31 yrs) and Imaobong Out Etim (Female, 18 years) were all convicted on charges of procurement of girls for prostitution; recruitment of children for forced labour; deceitfully inducing girls with the motive of exploitation and confinement of a person against his will, all contrary to the sections 15, 22 and 19 of the Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Act.
Uduak Lateefah Babatunde who pleaded guilty was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment and admonished to learn the skill of hair dressing while Asuquo Etim Jimmy was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment on each of the 4 counts to run concurrently or a fine of N50,000 on each of the 4 counts which will run concurrently.
On Nna Otobong Akpan and Imaobong Otu Etim, they pleaded guilty and were sentenced. Akpan was convicted on 2 counts and sentenced to 5 years on the 1st count and 3 years on the 2nd count or an option of fine of N150, 000 on 1st count and N100,000 on the 2nd count. Etim on the other hand was convicted on the 3rd count and sentenced to 3 years imprisonment or an option of fine of N100, 000.
Reacting to these convictions, the Director –General of NAPTIP, Mrs. Beatrice Jedy-Agba commended the Judges for the good job. She however, stressed the need for all hands to be on deck in the fight against human trafficking in Nigeria.