I was asked to make $10k weekly, gang-raped for porn apps – Nigerian girl trafficked to Ghana

Date:

By Evelyn Usman

Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!

When William Wilberforce and other abolitionists achieved their aim of ending slavery, little did they know that this act of man’s inhumanity to man would continue in other forms, long after they had departed this world.

Similarly, in the early 60s, Herbert Marshall McLuhan, a globally-acclaimed scholar of media studies posited that the world would soon become a global village, where electronic media predominates as the world gets more digitally connected with new technologies driving connectivity and making experience sharing easier than before.

However, McLuhan did not see how the baser elements in society would take advantage of the global village for pecuniary benefits. One such area is human trafficking, where perpetrators have used visual technologies to paint rosy pictures of life in other climes, with the intent of luring undiscerning people into conditions from which only the perpetrators can profit.

In particular, traffickers have taken advantage of increasing unemployment, worsening mass poverty and economic crisis in Nigeria, to cajole hordes of people to Ghana and other countries, for personal gain

As the world gets more digitally connected than ever before, human traffickers are taking advantage of the increasing rate of unemployment, mass poverty and economic crisis in Nigeria, to export droves of her citizens to Ghana and other West Africa countries, for personal gains.

ECOWAS Park, Mile 2, Lagos.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, said Nigeria has the highest number of unidentified victims of trafficking in West Africa.

Investigation revealed that not less than 180 Nigerian youths board vehicles weekly, from the ECOWAS garage located at Mile-Two, on the Lagos-Badagry expressway, Nigeria, where vehicles conveying passengers to the Benin Republic, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Morocco and other West African countries, are stationed.

A good percentage of these youths : males and females between 19 and 35 years, were discovered to be heading for the Republic of Ghana, either on the promise of a scholarship to study in some tertiary institutions or job opportunities.

But they realize too late, upon arrival, that they are victims of human trafficking for cybercrime.

Victims’ ordeal

One of the victims who was rescued by the Ghanaian authorities in 2023, Gladys Osayande, was traced to Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria, said she was lured through fake job recruitment to Ghana.

The 28-year-old lady said , “ the traffickers resorted to various forms of physical torture and abuse to coerce us into Business Email Scam, BEC and cybersex.

“They made us pose as management staff of a corporate network to convince targets into sending money to an account. Targets were usually companies that used wire transfer to pay international clients.

“I was fed twice a day, by 12 noon and 10 pm. I worked all day on the internet. I was given a target to make at least $10,000 a week. If I didn’t make it, the sanction was starvation for two days. In addition, they would invite some men to have sex with me, while they streamed the process and downloaded it in porn apps in exchange for an undisclosed amount. I was told that was the only way to make up for the target I failed to meet.”

For the males, they would spray tear gas into their eyes and  use electric shocks on them. I was among those rescued by the Ghana’s Economic and Organized Crime Office, EOCO in collaboration with the Ghana Police in Accra, in 2023″.

Another victim

Another victim, was 23- year-old Uchedun Ndidi, who hails from Ohii community in Owerri West Local Government Area of Imo State. She left her home town for the first time in 2022, after receiving an offer of admission via email, to study Communication in a popular university in Ghana.

She ”I arrived Accra, Ghana on March 3, 2022. A man who identified himself as Abeiku came to pick me up in a car to an apartment he said was a hostel. He told me they had done the online registration on my behalf. I believed him because when I checked the school’s calendar online, it corresponded with the information they gave.

“Besides, they said I would pay just 20 percent of the school fees which was N80,000 and that I could spread the payment in four installments before the end of the session. I jumped at the offer because it was cheaper than what I would have paid in any of the Nigerian universities. Besides, it came at a time when an indefinite strike was embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU.

“ The next morning, I quickly got up to take my bath and get ready for school but another man whom we called boss, came in, took the cash meant to pay my fees from me, with my luggage.

“Without any explanation, he took me to a room upstairs where there were many laptops. Immediately he entered, everyone stood up and chorused: ‘Good morning boss.’ He walked with an air of arrogance to a corner and beckoned on me to come. Thereafter, he instructed one of the young men in the room to put me through. They taught me how to work on some of their social media apps and how to lure men from any part of the world with whom I would go into a fake online relationship, to scam them with fake business proposals.

“They created a new Facebook page for me and posted my real picture on it. They changed my name to Louisa Hamadou, a Cameroonian studying in Ghana. They had over 15 corporate bank accounts where money was paid into.

“ Three of us, all females , attempted to escape once. We were beaten and starved for days. We were drugged and gang-raped, while the process was streamed live for cybersex. From that day on , we were forbidden to speak with each other.

“We were only allowed to sleep for three hours a day. Those hours of rest were broken into 30 minutes each, both in the day and at night. I was only allowed to speak with my widowed mother once a week, under supervision and I was forbidden to tell her the true position of things.

Escape at last

“ In January 2023,  I saw them rushing out of their rooms. This was after the ‘boss’ received a telephone call. In his deep baritone voice, he ordered in pidgin English: ‘Everybody find your way o. Officer just call, him say Ak dey come o ( Everyone should escape. I just got a call that policemen were on their way here.).

“ One of them came back, ordered three of us- all females ,  to follow him.

We entered the car without carrying our bags. They dropped us off in the middle of nowhere, threw some wads of naira notes and Ghana cedis at us and told us to find our way, that the Police were after us..

“ We left Ghana that night for Togo, for fear of being arrested. Next day, we boarded a vehicle  from Togo to Benin Republic and thereafter, to Nigeria. On reaching home, I fell sick and was diagnosed with an overdose of drugs which I suspected was put in my food and drinks back in Ghana to keep me awake.”

Emerging trend

Director-General of the  National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP,  Prof. Fatima Waziri-Azi,  described this trend as alarming, while discussing emerging trends in human trafficking for the year 2024, at the agency’s headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory.

She  said:  “As part of our comprehensive enlightenment strategies to equip Nigerians with timely and accurate information to reduce their vulnerability, we have received reports indicating that traffickers have adopted new tactics to lure unsuspecting victims, predominantly to Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, and other West African nations.”

She continued: “Under the guise of lucrative employment opportunities in gold mining and oil companies, victims are enticed with promises of monthly incomes as high as nine hundred dollars ($900.00), which, as always, are blatant lies. Victims are often instructed to bring about eight hundred and fifty thousand naira (N850,000) for documentation and other logistical expenses. Upon arrival at their destination, traffickers confiscate this money with the victims’ phones and other personal belongings.”

Porous borders

The Seme and Idiroko borders in Lagos and Ogun states in the South-West region of Nigeria, have been identified as the commonly used borders by human traffickers to convey victims to Ghana by road, because of the porous nature of the borders.

Victims are also trafficked through the waterways of Ode Jetty in Lagos en-route Benin Republic, to Ghana.

While the English language could also be attributed to the choice of Ghana as the destination point for human trafficking for cybercrime, investigation during a two-day visit to the Seme and Idiroko borders revealed that border security and control are being compromised by some security officials.

Corrupt practice such as bribery by the different border security officials, was evident. Some of these officials of government institutions collect between N3,000 and N15,000 ( $2 – $10) from travellers, especially those without travel documents, at the exit points.

They employ civilian agents who act as intermediary between them, the traffickers and the trafficked persons, to collect this bribe which waives off checking of travelling documents. Most times, these civilian agents are drivers  conveying trafficked persons to Ghana.

In some cases, trafficked persons are taken through illegal and unmanned routes through both borders, into Benin Republic from where they will board the next available vehicle to major cities in Ghana.

Victims taken through these illegal routes are those promised scholarships to study in Ghana. They are made to believe that the decision to take the routes is to cut down on transportation cost.

Officials mum

Several attempts made to get reactions from the Nigeria Immigration Service ,NIS responsible for border security and migration management, on why victims were taken freely through the land border without travel documents, failed, as this reporter was told to wait endlessly for response.

During a visit to the NIS, Lagos State Command, in Ikoyi ,Lagos, on February 15, 2024, the spokesperson, Deputy Superintendent of Immigration, DSI, Ego Esemena, could not attend to this reporter as she was busy with her boss who played host to senior officers from other services.

She promised to attend to this reporter  later but never did as several calls and text messages sent at different times to her were not responded to.

The same was the case with the NIS national spokesman, DCI Adedotun Aridegbe, as he did not pick his calls or respond to the text messages sent on several occasions , until he was replaced by an officer who was yet to be officially announced as at March 20,2024.

But when contacted, the Nigeria Police Force Public Relations Officer, ACP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said, “We are working with the Nigeria Immigration Service and Nigeria Customs Service to address some of the security challenges along our border corridors in Nigeria. The Inspector General of Police, IGP Kayode Egbetokun and the Comptroller General of Customs, Adewale Adeniyi, will embark on some on-the-spot assessment of our border communities and routes soon. We will update you accordingly. Human trafficking and other criminal activities at borders will be collectively tackled as soon as possible”.

Arrests

Not less than 100 Nigerian victims have so far been rescued in three years, according to a collation of published reports on arrests made at different times in three years by Ghanaian authorities.

Among these arrests were two Nigerians alleged to be engaged in human trafficking for cybercrime in Ghana. Their arrest was effected by the Central Regional Anti-Human Trafficking Unit of the Ghana Police Service, GPS at Gomoa Pomadze.

Ghanaian Regional Police Public Relations Officer and Head of the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit, DSP Irene Oppong, in a report published by Ghana News Agency, revealed that 39 victims, all Nigerians in their twenties, were rescued in the process, adding that thirty-six laptops were retrieved from the house.

Sixteen of these suspects, all Nigerians, were deported by the Ghanaian Government for the same offence, in 2022, according to the former Comptroller, Seme Border Command, Nigeria, Dr. Chukwuemeka Dike.

In 2023, data released by the NIS revealed that 522 suspected migrant smugglers were handed over to NAPTIP . Of this number, 12 suspected traffickers were recommended for prosecution.

In addition, four suspected traffickers were repatriated from Ghana and handed over to the NAPTIP, in 2024.

But sources at the NIS information office disclosed during an earlier visit to its headquarters in Sauka, on Abuja International Airport Road, Federal Capital Territory, that there were no available data on Nigerians arrested for trafficking victims from Nigeria into forced cybercrime in Ghana, from 2021 to 2023.

Prosecution

Trafficking of Nigerians to Ghana for cybercrime still goes on with impunity due to the slow prosecution process. Findings revealed that when suspects are granted bail in court, they  continue  with their stock-in-trade, capitalizing on the slow court procedure.

Such cases take one year or more before judgment is passed. The delay sometimes could be due to the transfer of Judges handling the matter to other states, or another court. And the new Judge will have to start hearing of the case all over again.

At other times, victims get frustrated due to the long process and may decide to discontinue with the case, either out of threat and coercion by suspects or lack the fund needed for the logistics of judicial process. With this, the whole process is jeopardized.

At different times the NAPTIP had advocated for a special court that would handle its cases , in order to address this challenge.

Institutions like Expertise France, a French public agency with funding from the European Union ,initiated the ALTP Project to support the authorities and civil society in six Gulf of Guinea countries (Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria and Togo) in the fight against human trafficking, with a view to assisting them meet up with the 2030 planned year of ending modern slavery.

Gbenga Samson
Gbenga Samsonhttp://ThisDayLive.com
Samson Gbenga Salau [Editorial Board Adviser] Gbenga Samuel Salau is a professional journalist with over 17 years experience in journalism, he is a graduate of Communication and Language Arts, University of Ibadan. On completion of his youth service, he joined The Guardian as a freelance journalist and was later absorbed as a staff. While in the University, he was a campus journalist reporting for the Independence Hall and Faculty of Arts Press Clubs. As a campus journalist, he won the following awards; Independence Hall Press Best News writer; University of Ibadan Union of Campus Journalists’ Best News Reporter/Writer; First Runner-up, Reuben Abati Award for Investigative Journalism; Association of Faculty of Arts Students’ Press Best Reporter; University of Ibadan Union of Campus Journalists’ Best Political Writer; Winner, Reuben Abati Award for Investigative Journalism, and University of Ibadan Union of Campus Journalists’ Best Interviewer. He served the Association of Communication and Language Arts Students, as the Public Relation Officer, the same year he was appointed the News Editor of the Association of Faculty of Arts Students Press. The following session, he was made the General Editor, and a member of the 13-man University of Ibadan Students’ Union Transition Committee. As a reporter in The Guardian, in 2014, he won the Promasidor Quill Award Best Report on Nutrition and DAME Business Reporting category. In the 2015 edition of the Promasidor Quill Award, he won the best Report on Nutrition and Brand Advocate Categories, while in 2016, he won the NMMA Print Journalist of the Year, first runner-up Golden Pen Reporter of the Year and SERAs CSR Awards. Gbenga Salau loves traveling, reading, and listening to songs with good lyrics no matter the genre.

Share post:

Subscribe

Popular

More like this
Related

Leaving Africa’s Colonial-Era Currency Will Be Hard, But May Be Wise

PETER DOYLE Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger are contemplating an...

Anambra2025: Over 300 APGA Members Defect to Labour Party, Opposing Soludo’s Re-election Bid

In a significant political shift, more than 300 members...

“16 APC Aspirants, Including Gov Aiyedatiwa, Cleared for Ondo Gov Primary”

The national leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC)...

Oshiomhole apologises as “Former PDP Senator, Matthew Urhoghide, Joins APC in Edo States

Former Chairman of the Senate Public Accounts Committee and...
Social Media Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com