Showing posts with label trafficking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label trafficking. Show all posts

Friday, May 10, 2024

Senate in Nigeria proposes death penalty for drug trafficking

Nigeria's Senate on Thursday proposed significantly toughening penalties for drug trafficking, making the death penalty the new maximum sentence through a law amendment.

The amendment, which is not yet law, replaces life imprisonment, which was previously the harshest punishment.

Nigeria, Africa's most populous country of more than 200 million people, has in recent years gone from being a transit point for illegal drugs to a full-blown producer, consumer and distributor.

Opioid abuse, especially tramadol and cough syrups containing codeine, has been widespread throughout Nigeria, according to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, which banned production and import of codeine cough syrup in 2018.

While cannabis is cultivated locally, cocaine, methamphetamine and other narcotics are trafficked through the country alongside opioids to feed a growing addiction problem.

The legislation stemmed from a report by the Senate committees on judiciary, human rights and legal matters, and drugs and narcotics, which Senator Mohammed Monguno presented during Thursday's plenary session.

Supporters argued the threat of execution would serve as a stronger deterrent to drug traffickers than life imprisonment.

Lawmakers who opposed the measure expressed concerns about the irreversible nature of the death penalty and the possibility of wrongful convictions.

The House of Representatives earlier passed the bill but without a death penalty provision. Five select members of the Senate and House will need to harmonize the two versions before it goes to the president.

By Camillus Eboh, Reuters 

Related story: Video - Opioid crisis in Nigeria


Thursday, January 11, 2024

Video - Nigeria destroys elephant tusks

Wildlife officials in Abuja Nigeria on Tuesday destroyed 2.5 tons of elephant tusks valued at 11.2 million dollars. Officials say the powder will be used to create a monument symbolizing the importance of elephants in the ecosystem.


Related story: Nigeria destroys record $11.2 million in seized elephant tusks

China jails gang for smuggling pangolin scales from Nigeria


Friday, October 27, 2023

Video - Nigeria enforces measures to curb wildlife trafficking

The West African country is showing signs of winning its battle against wildlife trafficking. Authorities have seized and burned a huge collection of illegal wildlife products, including pangolin scales and rare animal skins, worth over 1 million U.S. dollars.

Friday, December 9, 2022

25,000 trafficked women, girls from Nigeria trapped in Malian mines

Virtually all states in Nigeria face high human trafficking and no fewer than 25,000 Nigerian women and girls are trapped in the mining areas of Mali, where they are sexually exploited

This was revealed by experts at a three-day media training workshop on “Countering Trafficking In Persons, (CTIP),” organised by Network Against Child Trafficking, Abuse and Child Labour (NACTAL) in collaboration with USAID for journalists from Cross River and seven other states of the federation and Abuja.

Held in Benin, Edo State, the workshop ended on Wednesday.

National President of NACTAL, Abdulganiyu Abubakar, in his remarks at the workshop, said as result of the situation, some countries discriminate against Nigeria when they travel out.

He charged the media to embark on campaigns to tackle issues of trafficking.
Similarly, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) confirmed the high level trafficking of humans in the country, revealing that it has, till date, rescued 17, 753 victims in the country.

The Zonal Commander of NAPTIP, Benin Zonal Command, Mr. Nduka Nwanwanne, stated that out of the figure, 13,626 are female, while 4,727 are males.

He said: “No fewer than 25,000 Nigerian women and girls are trapped living in shanties in the mining areas in Mali, where they are sexually exploited.”

According to her, prostitution is not human trafficking but the exploitation in prostitution is human trafficking. He described Nigeria as transit and destination on human trafficking, saying it is endemic in Edo and Delta states and all parts of the country.

Human trafficking, according to him, is worth 150 billion dollars in global criminal enterprise and it is the second largest in trans national organised crime after drug trafficking.

One of NACTAL’s resource persons, Nasiru Muazu Isa, said trafficking on humans is huge business and is so sophisticated to the extent that they track their victims with electronic gadgets to know where they are and where they go to.

The Project Manager, NACTAL, Mr. Samuel Olayemi, listed the objectives of the workshop to include: increasing knowledge of media practitioners on CTIP, intensifying media campaigns, strengthening capacity of media practitioners and improving knowledge of participants in developing relevant programmes.

By Anietie Akpan, The Guardian

Related stories: New Nollywood film shines a light on human trafficking in Nigeria

Gang charged with sex trafficking girls from Nigeria arrested in Italy

Video - Nigerian women trafficked to Europe for prostitution at 'crisis level'

Friday, September 9, 2022

Nigeria seizes donkey penises to be smuggled to Hong Kong

Nigerian officials have seized thousands of donkey penises that were about to be exported to Hong Kong, an official said on Thursday.

Sacks of the donkey male genitals were seized at the international airport in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, Sambo Dangaladima, the Nigeria Customs Service area commander, told reporters.

The consignment was “falsely declared … as cow male genitals (but) after due examination, my export officers discovered they were donkey male genitals,” said Dangaladima. A total of 16 sacks of the genitals were seized, he said.

An investigation has been launched to find out more information about the seized items, the customs service said.

Although the seizure of donkey genitals meant for export from Nigeria is rare, donkey skins are known to be frequently exported or smuggled out of the country. In July, the Nigerian customs seized $116,000 worth of donkey skins being smuggled into the country from neighboring Niger.

Nigeria is trying to curb the export of donkey skins which has drastically diminished the country’s population of the work animals, particularly in the north. Nigerian senators in 2021 proposed to ban the killing of donkeys and the export of their skins.

The lawmakers said such a ban on killing donkeys would further curb the export of donkey skins and genitals — which Nigeria prohibits — to countries like China where the skins are used in popular traditional medicines. That proposed legislation has not yet been passed into law.

“The major beneficiary in this trade is the donkey (skin) merchants in China,” Muhammad Datti, one of the federal lawmakers supporting the proposed ban, has said. “This animal is facing extinction (in Nigeria) and it is an animal you cannot breed in large numbers because of the very low rate of fertility.”

By Chinedu Asadu


Related stories: Smuggling booms despite Nigeria border closure

Monday, August 9, 2021

Video - Customs in Nigeria seize haul of rare pangolin scales, ivory

The Nigeria Customs Service has seized a huge haul of rare pangolin scales and ivory that were to be smuggled out of the country. The seizure was made in the Nigerian commercial capital of Lagos last month but the Customs Service has only just revealed it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

26 people rescued in human trafficking bust in south Nigeria

At least 26 persons including 19 children have been rescued from trafficking during a law enforcement operation in Nigeria’s southern state of Edo, authorities said on Tuesday.

In a statement, Kontongs Bello, a police spokesperson in Edo, said the victims comprise 19 children, one teenager and six women who were trafficked from the southeast states of Ebonyi, Imo, Abia, Anambra and Akwa Ibom.

He said they were heading toward Evbuotubu in Ekenwan road axis of Benin city before rescue came their way.

According to the police spokesman, the women were lured from their various home states by a woman named “Jennifer”, noting that the suspect is now on the run.

“They were lured in a guise that Edo state government is giving financial support to single mothers with newborn babies especially twins,” he said.

“The women said they were forced to go for street begging for their mistress Jennifer. They further stated that only peanut is given to them to take care of their children,” he said.

By David Ochieng Mbewa


Related story: New Nollywood film shines a light on human trafficking in Nigeria


Wednesday, January 6, 2021

China jails gang for smuggling pangolin scales from Nigeria

A court in China has jailed 17 people for smuggling pangolin scales worth US$28 million from Nigeria to China.

The creature is the world’s most trafficked mammal in the world and its scales are used for medical reasons in Asia despite there being no evidence they can cure ailments.

The gang was convicted of importing 23 tonnes of scales between 2018 and 2019, the Intermediate People’s Court in the eastern city of Wenzhou said on Tuesday.

Two men identified as “masterminds behind the racket” were sentenced to between 13 and 14 years in prison.

The remaining others were given jail terms ranging from 15 months to 12 years.

The scales were brought in on, among other things, a consignment “hidden in ginger slices”, the court said.

Coronavirus link?

China removed pangolin body parts from its official list of traditional medicines in June and raised the animal’s protected status to the country’s highest level due to its dwindling numbers.

Pangolin scales are traditionally used in China for a range of illnesses, including treating blood clots and aiding lactation.

But there is no scientific evidence that they have any medicinal value.

There are some studies that also suggest that the scally creature may have been the intermediate host that transmitted the coronavirus to humans when it first emerged at a market in the Chinese city of Wuhan in 2019.

China has since banned the sale of wild animals for food in such markets.

China has cracked down on animal smuggling. In December, the country said it jailed a network accused of running its biggest-ever ivory smuggling ring, which moved elephant tusks worth millions of dollars from West Africa into the mainland’s vast domestic market.


Monday, January 4, 2021

The story behind ‘Oloture,’ Nigeria’s Netflix sex-trafficking drama

Clad soberly in a checkered knee-length dress, Tobore Ovuorie hardly seems as if she once walked the streets of Lagos in a revealing outfit and high heels.

A freelance reporter with a burning desire to uncover the truth about a sordid backstreet trade, Ovuorie dressed as streetwalker to infiltrate a prostitution ring.

She took on the dangerous mission after a friend left for Europe, became a sex worker and died, leaving Ovuorie shocked and beset with questions.

Today, Ovuorie's remarkable story has been turned into a hit Netflix film, Oloture, which has shone a bright light on one of Nigeria's darkest trades.

"I needed to do justice, to know the truth. I wanted to know the process, the back story about these ladies," the 39-year-old reporter told AFP.

By dressing up, she sought to gain the prostitutes' trust - the first step to introducing her to a "madam," a pimp.

After eight months working undercover in 2013, Tobore Ovuorie emerged with a terrifying account about the victims of sex trafficking.

Some were sent to Europe, where they were coerced into becoming sex workers. Others were forced to participate in orgies organized by local politicians. Some became victims of organ trafficking for ritual crimes.

She published her story in 2014 in the Nigerian newspaper Premium Times and Dutch investigative magazine, Zam Chronicles, inspiring a production company in Nigeria to adapt it for the screen.

Released in October on Netflix, the story has been widely watched and applauded in its home country, Africa's most populous market.

"Sometimes investigative journalists in search of the story become the story," director Kenneth Gyang told AFP.

But in this case, the reporter was also "the torch that led us into the lives" of victims, he said.


Sex trafficking is rife in Nigeria, in particular in southern Benin City, a recruiting ground for criminal gangs who smuggle women to Europe.

How many are trafficked is unknown but in Italy, authorities say that between 10,000 and 30,000 Nigerians are prostitutes.

Several thousand others are stuck in Libya or other African countries, often exploited by criminals who make them believe they will one day reach Europe.

In the film, a journalist named Oloture, playing the part of Ovuorie during her investigation, heads to neighboring Benin with a dozen other girls.

From there, their "madam" promises they will depart to Europe in exchange for money (up to $85,000) that they will have to repay once they arrive in Italy.

Very quickly, the journey turns sour.

Instead of heading to the country's border, their minibus stops in a gloomy training camp on the outskirts of Lagos.

There, the girls are roughed up and divided into two groups: "street" prostitutes and "special" prostitutes reserved for wealthier clients.

On screen, the most gripping character is Linda, a young uneducated woman from a poor rural background, who becomes friends with Oloture.

Linda "represents many of those young ladies and how they get in disillusion" said Ovuorie, who came across such a character during her investigation.

For the director, it is exciting that the film is a success in Nigeria.

"We have to see how to make this film available in remote places for young vulnerable women who might be susceptible to be trafficked to Europe," said Gyang.

Emotional toll

On social media, the movie - and its ending - have triggered passionate debate.

"For most of these ladies there is never any light at the end of the tunnel," said Gyang, "so why would you try to make a film that would end on a happy note?"

Ovuorie said that what she saw and experienced during her investigation still haunts her - she is trying to find the women she was meant to go to Europe with, and tell their stories.

Her work has inflicted a heavy emotional cost, she said.

"I'm a shadow of myself, I try to smile, to look bright, but most of the time it's been just me fighting to hold onto life."


Related story: New Nollywood film shines a light on human trafficking in Nigeria

Video - Nigerian women trafficked to Europe for prostitution at 'crisis level'

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

71 Nigerian girls crying for help in viral video in Lebanon arrive Abuja

Seventy-one young Nigerian girls trafficked to Lebanon and seen in a video that had gone viral where they were crying for help had been rescued and arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, early Monday.

Mr Bitrus Samuel, the Head of NEMA Abuja Operation Office, disclosed this to Newsmen. He said that the girls were the second batch of the more than 150 Nigerian girls who were trafficked to Lebanon in search of greener pastures.

Early in the month, 94 victims that constituted the first batch were received at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos. Samuel said that the latest victims would be going from the airport to the hotel where the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) would profile their records. The agency would quarantine the girls as a precaution against coronavirus pandemic.

Also, the spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Ferdinand Nwonye, said that the rescue came after video footage of the stranded Nigerians appealing to the Federal Government and well-meaning Nigerians to come to their aid went viral on the Internet. The spokesman said the ministry had several discussions with Mr Houssam Diab, the Ambassador of Lebanon to Nigeria before the Lebanese Government agreed to release the girls to the Federal Government.

He said that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, was very sad when he saw the video footage. He had to summon the Lebanese Ambassador, and both leaders had a series of engagements that led to the release of the girls.

Nwonye said that following the discussions between the two leaders, the Lebanese community in Nigeria through the facilitation of the Nigerian mission in Beirut chartered a flight, paid the flight tickets for these girls to return to Nigeria. NAN reports that various government officials from NAPTIP, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Nigeria in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) respectively were on ground at the airport to receive them. Also, Mr Akinloye Akinsola, the representative of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), said that some Nigerians employed as domestic workers in Lebanon had complained of maltreatment from their Lebanese employers.

He said that sequel to the complaints; the Lebanese Ambassador to Nigeria had suspended the issuance of working visas to Nigerians seeking to do domestic work in Lebanon. He said the suspension had become imperative so as to stem the tide of the maltreatment. Akinsola said that the commission had started the procedure for proper harmonisation in line with best practices relating to orderly migration. He said that the discussion was with the Ministry of Labour and Employment and the House of Representatives’ Chairman on the Diaspora, Mrs Tolulope Akande-Shodipe.


Related stories: Canada and Nigeria working to combat migrant smuggling, human trafficking and irregular migration

Canada and Nigeria working to combat migrant smuggling, human trafficking and irregular migration

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Video - Nigeria locking up survivors of human trafficking

Despite attempts by the Nigerian government to combat human trafficking and provide support for those that survived being trafficked, care for victims is still severely lacking, a new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) says.

According to the report, the Nigerian government is illegally detaining survivors of human trafficking, prohibiting the often traumatised women from recovering from the experiences they went through.

"The Nigerian authorities are actually detaining trafficking survivors in shelters, not allowing them to leave at will, in violation of Nigeria’s international legal obligations," the New York-based rights body said.

"The detentions overwhelmingly affect women and girls, and put their recovery and well-being at risk."

The report is based on interviews with 76 survivors, 20 of them girls between the ages 8 and 17, who either were trafficked out of Nigeria and later returned, or were trafficked into Nigeria.

They were often promised well-paying jobs as domestic workers, hairdressers, or hotel staff but were then tricked and trapped in exploitation and forced to pay back a huge "debt" for their travel.

Often, the people who trafficked them were people they knew personally.

"My aunt brought me here. She said she will help me. When I got here, she said I had to work before the apprenticeship," one of the survivors told HRW.

"She took me somewhere to work as a house girl…. I was mistreated. She did not give me food; I washed cars, cleaned the house and the compound," the 14-year-old, who is one of several victims quoted in the report, said.

"My aunt used to collect the money. Their kids were too hostile to me. I decided to leave."

'Closed shelters'

Over the last couple of years, the Nigerian government has introduced several anti-trafficking laws and started the the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), which runs shelters for trafficking survivors.

However, those shelters are severely lacking, HRW said.

"Some survivors in the NAPTIP shelters complained about not being able to receive visitors or contact their families, not having clear information about when they would reunite with their families, monotonous daily schedules, or boredom from doing nothing," the report states.

"Those referred by NAPTIP to private shelters were unhappy about poor conditions and services, including inadequate food, lack of soap or body lotion, lack of medical and psychosocial care, and lack of job training," it added.

The women often suffer from depression, anxiety, insomnia, flashbacks, aches and pains, and other physical ailments as a result of their ordeal.

Despite attempts by the Nigerian government to help them reintegrate, the so-called "closed shelters" do not provide enough support for the women to reintegrate into Nigerian society, HRW said.

"Women and girls trafficked in and outside Nigeria have suffered unspeakable abuses at the hands of traffickers, but have received inadequate medical, counseling, and financial support to reintegrate into society" senior women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch Agnes Odhiambo said.

"We were shocked to find traumatised survivors locked behind gates, unable to communicate with their families, for months on end, in government-run facilities." 

HRW has called on Nigeria to better listen to the experiences of survivors and offer more room for community services, health workers and other organisations to play in a role in the recovery of the women.

"Nigerian authorities are struggling with a crisis of trafficking, and working under challenging circumstances, but they can do a better job by listening to what survivors have to say about their own needs," Odhiambo said.

"To end trafficking and break cycles of exploitation and suffering, survivors need the government to help them heal from the trauma of trafficking and earn a decent living in Nigeria."

Al Jazeera

Related stories: The illegal sex trafficking trail between Nigeria and Europe

Women from Nigeria forced to become sex workers during 2018 World Cup in Russia

Video - Nigerian women trafficked to Europe for prostitution at 'crisis level'

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Video - Nigeria struggles to rescue 20,000 girls from Mali sex trade

Nigeria is struggling to bring home an estimated 20,000 girls trapped in Mali. The victims of the sex trade are kept in appalling conditions. Officials say collusion between law enforcement agents and traffickers is hampering the rescue efforts.

Related stories: Video - Nigerian women trafficked to Europe for prostitution at 'crisis level'

Nigeria's international sex-trafficking ring

20,000 Nigerian girls trafficked to Mali for prostitution

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Gang charged with sex trafficking girls from Nigeria arrested in Italy

Sicilian authorities have made a series of arrests after a suspected sex trafficking ring was believed to have forced at least 15 Nigerian girls into prostitution in Italy.

Among those arrested were two Nigerian women, Rita Ihama, 38, and Monica Onaigfohe, aged 20, who police believe organised the trafficking of the women from Libya to Italy. An Italian national, Giovanni Buscemi, was also arrested on suspicion of helping facilitate the trafficking and exploitation of the girls.

Prosecutors believe the group of young women were lured from Nigeria with the promise of work in Italy. They say before they left their homes they were made to undergo traditional oath-taking ceremonies involving complicated and frightening rituals. The use of “juju” ceremonies in the trafficking of women from Nigeria to Europe are widespread and have been found to have a profound psychological impact on victims.

“On arrival in Italy, the women [say they] were forced into prostitution and told they must pay back the cost of their travel to Italy,” said Giovannella Scaminaci, deputy chief prosecutor in Messina, who led the operation. She said that sex trafficking operations between Nigeria, Libya and Italy are highly organised and continue despite recent attempts to stem the flow of migration from north Africa to Europe.

“There is an industry in the exploitation of girls from the age of 14 who have all become terrorised and controlled through the use of these juju ceremonies,” she says.

Yesterday, Sicilian prosecutors in Catania also arrested 19 Nigerians suspected of belonging to the Supreme Vikings Confraternity, an organised crime group operational across Sicily. The men are accused of drug smuggling and the rape and sexual assault of Nigerian women in Cara di Mineo, one of Italy’s largest reception centres for refugees. Prosecutors told the Guardian that they were considering the possibility that the men arrested were raping women at the centre “with the aim of subjugating them and preparing them for prostitution’’.

About 16,000 Nigerian women arrived in Italy from Libya between 2016-2017. According to the UN’s International Office for Migration (IOM) more than 80% of them were victims of trafficking, destined for a life of forced prostitution on street corners and in brothels across Italy and Europe.

In recent weeks hundreds of people have been removed from reception centres across Italy as part of the populist government’s hardline immigration measures.

The moves come as a part of a concerted push to implement the “Salvini decree” – named after Italy’s interior minister Matteo Salvini. It abolishes humanitarian protection for those not eligible for refugee status, and was passed by the Italian government last year.

As a result hundreds of asylum seekers are now at risk of homelessness. NGOs and aid agencies, including the Red Cross, have warned that victims of sex trafficking are among those evicted.

“If this is true then the decree has been misinterpreted by local authorities,” says Scaminaci. “Nigerian women victims of sex trafficking must always be granted a humanitarian permit or a refugee status because of the consequences they could face if deported back in Nigeria.”

Last December, Blessing, a 31-year-old Nigerian woman who was trafficked into prostitution in Italy, said she had been removed from a reception centre in Isola di Capo Rizzuto, in Calabria.

“When the police came to tell us that we couldn’t stay there any more, I couldn’t believe my ears,” she said. “They took all of our belongings and escorted us out. There was a young girl in our group. This is outrageous. I have a legal permit to stay. And soon I may not have a roof over my head. I’m really frightened.”

Father Enzo Volpe, a Salesian priest in Palermo who has been providing assistance to Nigerian women for seven years, says that the clearing of reception centres is likely to increase the risk of further trafficking and exploitation.

“Leaving these girls in the street, victims of sex trafficking, is not only inhumane, it also means facilitating the work of criminal organisations,” he said. “With no protection, these girls risk becoming easy prey.”

The Guardian

Related stories: 20,000 Nigerian girls trafficked to Mali for prostitution

The illegal sex trafficking trail between Nigeria and Europe

Video - Nigerian women trafficked to Europe for prostitution at 'crisis level' 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

20,000 Nigerian girls trafficked to Mali for prostitution

Nigeria's anti-trafficking agency says it has received concrete intelligence that around 20,000 Nigerian girls have been forced into prostitution in Mali.

Many of the girls are working in hotels and nightclubs after being sold to prostitution rings by human traffickers, according to a fact-finding mission carried out by the agency in collaboration with Malian authorities in December.

NAPTIP's Arinze Osakwe told CNN most of the girls said they were lured by human traffickers who promised them employment in Malaysia.

"The new trend is that they told them they were taking them to Malaysia and they found themselves in Mali. They told them they would be working in five-star restaurants where they would be paid $700 per month," Osakwe, who was part of an earlier NAPTIP rescue mission, said.

Some of the girls had been sold as sex slaves in gold mining camps in northern parts of Mali, he said.
Officials from the agency under Operation Timbuktu rescued 104 Nigerian girls from three brothels in Bamako, Mali's capital in 2011.

They were forced to become sex workers in mining communities in northern Mali.

"We brought back 104 girls just from three ramshackle brothels, and those were the ones that were even willing to come. They were mostly between the age of 13 and 25, and they had been trapped in the country for many years," Osakwe said.

"Since then, we have been working with local authorities and receiving reports from the Nigerian embassy in Bamako that the number of Nigerian girls trafficked to Mali has spiked tremendously," he said.

The agency said it is working with Malian authorities, the International Organization for Migration and National Emergency Management Agency to send the girls back to Nigeria.
Every year, tens of thousands of Nigerians are trafficked illegally to destinations abroad especially Europe.

Around 97 percent of victims are women, and 77 percent have been sexually exploited by their traffickers, according to IOM estimates.


Related stories: The illegal sex trafficking trail between Nigeria and Europe

Video - Nigerian women trafficked to Europe for prostitution at 'crisis level'

Monday, August 13, 2018

Video - Nigerians seek to end treacherous illegal immigration route from Libya to Europe

Nigeria is reported to have the highest number of illegal Migrants in Libya -- who are seeking to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe. Most of them are young people hoping to get a better life in Europe. Although many of those who have been repatriated tell of harrowing experiences, there are still a number of Nigerians who are ready to take the risky journey. CGTN's Deji Badmus has been speaking to a returnee who is now one of those trying to put an end to the trend of irregular migration in Nigeria.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Nigerian Human traffickers operating at 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia

Weeks before the 2018 FIFA World Cup was due to kick off in Russia, a woman met Blessing and Mfon at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in the southern Nigeria city of Uyo. The two young sisters had gone there to watch Nigeria play Spain’s Atletico Madrid in a warmup match ahead of the global soccer fiesta in which this West African nation is proud to participate, and the woman, in her 40s, seemed to be a devoted fan.

“We sat beside her during the match, and we were all analyzing the performance of the [Nigerian] team together,” Blessing, who is 19 and the older of the two siblings, told The Daily Beast. “After the match, she asked us if we would like to go watch the World Cup in Russia and work there after the tournament.”

Russia is open to foreigners with just a single match ticket and a FAN ID, which is available online to confirmed ticket holders. Once you’re in, you can stay legally until July 25, which is 10 days after the end of the competition.

While this is good news for soccer fans visiting the country, it is equally an opportunity for traffickers to do big business.

Blessing and Mfon were told their travel to Russia would be taken care of and that they would get jobs in Moscow as social workers for a nongovernmental organization dealing with traumatized athletes once the World Cup was over. The girls were told it would take about six months to pay back the cost of the journey to Russia, put at $20,000 each, after which they could keep all the money they made.

“We took her to our parents, and she told them the same thing,” Blessing said. “She said she had slots for 20 Nigerian girls and was looking to take girls from all regions of Nigeria with a passion for sports.”

No one suspected the woman was a human trafficker because she showed documents appearing to link her to a number of humanitarian organizations in Russia, and she hailed from the same wider community as the family of Blessing and Mfon, which gave the parents of the girls the impression that she wouldn’t hurt her kindred.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

World Cup child trafficking bid caught by Nigerian authorities

Nigerian authorities say they have rescued nine young girls and one boy who were being trafficked to Russia.

Five suspects, including a policeman and a quarantine officer, were arrested for allegedly facilitating their travel, the government agency fighting trafficking says.

The victims were found while trying to board a plane from Lagos to Moscow.

They had football supporter ID cards in order to look as though they were fans heading to the World Cup in Russia.

The children, who were unaccompanied, are now in a shelter for victims of trafficking which run by the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (Naptip).

Five other potential victims, also children, were stopped from boarding a flight to Russia when staff noticed they had one-way tickets.

Criminals have been pressurising young Nigerians and their parents to take advantage of the World Cup to get Russian visas, Naptip says.

It warns that, once out of the country, the victims would be exploited by traffickers.

Many victims of trafficking from Africa to Europe come from Nigeria.

According to the UN's agency for migration, most of the potential sex trafficking victims arriving in Italy by sea are Nigerian.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Human traffickers plan to sell Nigerian women for sex at World Cup in Russia

Human traffickers are planning to exploit relaxed Russian visa controls for next month’s World Cup to sell Nigerian women into sex work, state officials and anti-slavery activists said.

Officials in Nigeria said they had intelligence showing plans were well underway to traffic local women into Russia for the football tournament, exploiting a move by Moscow to let spectators enter the country with just a ticket and a fan pass.

“This is a real present for traffickers,” said Julia Siluyanova of Russian anti-slavery group Alternativa.

She said Russia’s strict visa process had typically made trafficking people into the nation time-consuming and costly and the eased visa rules had now left the system open to abuse.

Many women and girls have been lured from Nigeria in recent years with promises of work and good wages only to end up trapped in debt bondage, and the World Cup could see the number of victims arriving in Russia soar, according to Alternativa.

“We discovered that about 30 victims (Nigerian women) were brought to the Confederations Cup in Moscow last year ... we expect to face the same problem during the World Cup this year,” Siluyanova told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by email.

Visa-free entry was trailed at the Confederations Cup and will apply to the entire World Cup, which runs in 11 Russian cities from June 14 to July 15, and the ten days either side.


Nigeria’s anti-trafficking agency NAPTIP said it had received intelligence that human traffickers were planning to take advantage of the tournament, and that it was working with the Russian embassy in the capital of Abuja to tackle the issue.

“If we alert Nigerians, we disrupt them (traffickers) ... and let them know that these plans are in the works,” said Arinze Orakwu, head of public enlightenment at NAPTIP.

NAPTIP was unable to say how many women were trafficked into Russia, but an official in Nigeria’s Edo state said it was sizeable.

“Women are being trafficked to Russia, and we get returnees back from Russia,” said Yinka Omorogbe, head of Edo’s anti-trafficking task force. “It is not a frequent destination in the same way as Italy is, but we do get a pretty large number.”

Thousands of Nigerian women and girls are lured to Europe each year, making the treacherous sea crossing from Libya to Italy, and trafficked into sex work, the United Nations says.

The number of female Nigerians arriving in Italy by boat surged to more than 11,000 in 2016 from 1,500 in 2014, with at least four in five of them forced into prostitution, according to data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

A spokesman for football’s governing body FIFA said it was committed to ensuring human rights were respected, but that crimes such as human trafficking were the responsibility of local and international authorities.

The Russian government could not be reached for comment.

From the Olympics to the Super Bowl, big sporting events regularly trigger warnings over an influx of sex workers, many of whom are victims of modern slavery, yet experts are split on whether such spectacles actively fuel trafficking.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Video - Hundreds more Nigerians flown home from Libya

The process of deporting migrants from Libya continues.Four hundred and one Nigerian migrants have been flown back home from Libya. They are the latest Nigerian returnees from Libya - where they had been in various detention camps for months.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Nigerian narrates how he became a slave in Libya

The Edo State indigene, whose emotion-laden interview with CNN’s Nima Elbagir in a Libyan deportation camp, was viewed by millions worldwide, shared his life-experiences in T.B. Joshua’s church on Sunday.

The young barber explained that his father died when he was just 11, adding that he struggled to sponsor himself through school along with his five siblings.

“When I was cutting the hair of one of my customer’s, he advised me to go to Europe where he promised I could earn a lot of money,” Mr. Imasuen recounted.

“I asked the man how much it would cost me. He said N350,000 but I said I only had N140,000 with me,” he said.

Mr. Imasuen had been determinedly saving N10,000 monthly for over one year.

The man promised to ‘help’, not knowing that Mr. Imasuen was naively about to use his own hard-earned cash to sell himself into slavery.

Travelling by road on a tortuous journey through Niger, the young Nigerian explained how one of the vehicles in his convoy had a “terrible accident” in the Sahara Desert, killing 30 people instantly.

“Upon arriving in Libya, the driver said he had not been paid his money and we were sold into the slave trade in Sabha.”

Mr. Imasuen said he and ten other Nigerians were ‘sold’ and then “locked up in one small room.”

More than 200 slaves were kept inside that inhumane cell.

“They started beating me to call my mother to send money. That was when my mother learned I was not in Nigeria – because I did not tell her before I left,” he admitted.

The ransom they demanded – N200,000 – was simply too much for Mr. Imasuen’s poverty-stricken mother to raise.

“For months, I did not hear from her. They kept on beating me everyday and I fell sick. If I went to the toilet, I was shitting blood.”

Mr. Imasuen said he was beaten three times daily for eight gruelling months. That was his fate as a male.

For the ladies sold into slavery, “they would send them out to do prostitution before selling them to another person; I know of a girl there who was sold three times.”

According to him, most of the enslaved females fell pregnant “without even knowing the father of the child.”

When a picture of Mr. Imasuen’s emaciated condition was circulated in his local community, they managed to come together to raise the money to secure his freedom in March 2017.

After gaining his freedom, he attempted to travel to Tripoli, hoping to join the thousands of illegal migrants who would brave the sea to try and reach Italy by boat.

“I didn’t even get to Tripoli before I was caught and taken to prison. I met more than 10,000 Nigerians there. We only eat once a day there – one piece of bread. I would drink salt water.”

While suffering the horrific prison conditions, Mr. Imasuen hatched a plan to reach the deportation camp.

He slipped a note into the female section of the prison, pleading that any of the ladies who was being taken for deportation claim he was their husband.

The ruse worked and Mr. Imasuen was taken to Tripoli’s main deportation camp – one step closer to being repatriated to Nigeria.

It was there he granted an interview to CNN, he said.

“I decided to speak to them, hoping to get help but at the end, nothing came out of it,” he bemoaned.

Through the intervention of the International Organisation for Migration, IOM, Mr. Imasuen was finally deported to Nigeria – with nothing but the clothes on his back to show for his “journey through hell”.

“Upon getting to Nigeria, I decided to come to T.B. Joshua because even before I left, I heard of the help he renders to others. I need prayer.”

Osazee Aghimie, another deportee, equally shared his own sorrowful tale, explaining how over 100 migrants died in the boat he was in after it capsized en route to Italy. He narrowly survived only to be thrown into prison and eventually deported.

T.B. Joshua, who had just turned from the Dominican Republic, gave the two men each N200,000. Mr. Imasuen could not hold back tears as he received the gift.

Mr. Joshua’s support to the duo is not an isolated instance. This week alone, the cleric gave over N4.4 million to Nigerians returning from Libya, and well over N100 million ($277,000) has been provided to them by The SCOAN since 2016.