A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, on Tuesday sentenced three women to jail for human trafficking offences.
The Convicts: 29 years old Precious Owoh from Delta State, 25 years old Blessing Gabriel (aka Precious) from Edo state, and 25 years old Rose Gabriel from Edo state were arraigned in court on the 20th April, 2016 by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) on a 4-count charge of recruiting a 27 years old young woman for exploitative prostitution.
Their offences include knowingly exporting the victim from Nigeria to Dubai for prostitution, organising, facilitating and promoting foreign travel which promotes exploitative prostitution for the victim to Dubai. These are acts which contravene sections 13 (1)(2) (b), 13 (4) (a)(c), 14 (b) and 18 of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015.
Delivering the judgment, the presiding Judge, Honourable Justice Babs Kuewumi sentenced them as follows: On Count one, the first, second and third accused were sentenced to two years imprisonment and a fine of N250, 000 .00 (two hundred and fifty thousand naira) each. On Count two; the convicts were sentenced to five years imprisonment and a fine of N1, 000, 000.00 (one million naira) each.
For the third Count, the first and second accused were sentenced to five years imprisonment or an option of N1,000,000.00 (one million naira) fine each, while the third accused was discharged and acquitted in respect of this count. Also, on the fourth Count, the first and second accused were sentenced to five years imprisonment or an option of N1,000,000.00 (one million naira) fine each, while the third accused was also discharged and acquitted in respect of this count.
The imprisonment terms for the first and the second convicts are to run concurrently from the first day of arrest but no reduction in the option of fine while the third convict’s sentence is to run concurrently beginning from the day of conviction but there is no reduction with regards to the option of fine.
In a similar development, a Federal High Court sitting in Makurdi on Wednesday sentenced 39 years old Daniel Abende, from Makurdi Local Government Area of Benue State, to two years imprisonment for human trafficking.
The convict recruited a 14 years old girl from Benue State and took her to Bayelsa state under the guise of getting her employed in a restaurant. Upon arrival, the victim was instructed to work as a prostitute and hand over her earnings. The victim was able to contact her mother after some days, and her mother reported the case to NAPTIP.
This action contravenes Section 13 of the Trafficking In Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration (TIPPEA) Act, 2015, which prohibits all acts of human trafficking, including the use of force, deception, coercion, etc. to recruit a person for the purpose of exploitation.
The presiding Judge, Justice Hassan Dikko, while delivering the judgment took into consideration the fact that he pled guilty when the charge was read to him, saying that the convict did not waste the time of the court in view of the overwhelming evidence presented by the prosecution. Also, the Judge noted that he was a first time offender and subsequently sentenced him to two years imprisonment without the option of fine.
The Director-General of NAPTIP, Dame Julie Okah-Donli lauded the efforts of the Judiciary in ensuring that justice is secured, and urged victims to report cases of human trafficking and exploitation to NAPTIP as the Agency is ready to fight to ensure that they get justice. She reminded the members of the public that internal trafficking is as real as external trafficking, as young Nigerians are moved from the rural areas to urban cities for exploitative prostitution. She further warned perpetrators to desist from such acts as the arm of the law will catch up with them.
Nneka I. Aniagoh
Press and Public Relations Unit.
July 5, 2018