Operatives of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) have arrested a middle-aged man, Emmanuel Stephen, for allegedly trafficking his 21-year-old girlfriend (name withheld) to Mali for prostitution and sexual exploitation.
The victim is said to be critically ill currently and without access to any medical service because of his status as an illegal and undocumented migrant.
Director-General of the agency, Senator Basheer Garba Muhammed, on assumption of office few months ago, had declared a total war of human traffickers in the country, and had given operatives of the agency the matching order to smoke traffickers out of Nigeria so as to ensure adequate protection of Nigerians from all forms of trafficking and exploitation.
The latest arrest 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.
About 12 victims were rescued during that operation.
The suspect, Emmanuel Stephen, an indigene of Akoko, Ondo State, was said to have been in a love relationship with the victim, an apprentice in one of the beauty stores in Abuja, for the past two years with a promise to marry her.
During interrogation, he confessed that his elder sister who stays in Mali called him early in the year and told him that she had graduated from her “Madam” and requested for a girl to be sent to her.
Stephen convinced his girlfriend who agreed and they were later linked up with somebody in Benin City, Edo State, who later arranged the movement from Nigeria to Mali by road in April 2021.
According to the suspect, the sister promised that the girl would help her to work in a beer parlour in Mali.
However, as soon as the victim arrived Mali, she was sold to another woman for a sum of N1,500,000 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 illness, with other associated health challenges and is currently in a serious condition.
The victim was said to have called her family in Nigeria and narrated her ordeal to them.
Effort by the family to bring her back yielded nothing as her Madam insisted on collecting the sum of N1.5 million before she can release her.
Reacting to the development, NAPTIP director-general, Senator Muhammed, expressed sadness over the fate of the victim and promised that the agency would work with other partners, including security agencies, to rescue her.
“I feel sad by the plight of the victim in question. NAPTIP in partnership with other stakeholders, will do everything possible to rescue her.
“While we shall continue to heat all parts of the Country to run human traffickers out of business in Nigeria, I wish to appeal to parents to be careful with the type of relationship their children keep.
“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 a tender age,” Senator Muhammed cautioned parents.