NIS hands over three rescued underaged girls to NAPTIP
The Comptroller of Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Rivers State Command, AJ Kwasua, has handed three girls with age ranging from 16 to 17 years, rescued from a failed journey to Ghana for prostitution to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) for reunification with their families.
The Comptroller said the girls were rescued at a popular motor park(Waterlines Park) in Port Harcourt on November 4 by men of the Anti-Human trafficking unit of the command.
While briefing newsmen at the Command Headquarters yesterday, Kwasua explained that it was the proactiveness of it officers that led to the arrest of a nursing mother who is the suspected recruiter aged 21, and transporter for allegedly facilitating the travel.
According to him, the feat was achieved due to the sensitisation exercise on the Smuggling of Migrants that was coincidentally flagged off yesterday in the state.
He said: As you may know today is an important day for Nigeria Immigration Service in Rivers State.
“It is the day we are launching our programme on sensitisation on the Smuggling of Migrants and we have just finished the opening ceremony fortunately it coincides with a practical example for us to educate the public for them to understand the reality of what we are doing.
“Because, when we go out to talk to people most times they feel we are just creating stories. But here with us this morning is an example of illegal Migrants who were rescued on November 4 by our gallant officers of the Anti-Human trafficking unit of the command.
“Three victims were rescued and are under our custody and on November 5 we took another proactive measure to make sure that we capture the recruiter who was said to be in Rivers State as of the time the process of migrating them took place and we arrested her. She was interrogated and she confessed to the crime that she was acting as a syndicate with some recruiters in Edo State.
“The victims are minors. Two are 17 years and one is 16 years. Two are from Rivers State while one is Akwa Ibom.
“And they confessed to agreeing to travel to Ghana for prostitution and as at the time they were arrested the transporter had already received money from the recruiter via online to pay transport fair for them to Lagos en route to Ghana which he had done already. But based on the insistent call by the mother of one of the victims, she developed cold feet and she could not make the journey anymore. It was in that process we received and we swang into action at exactly 8:20 pm. That is when we arrested them and brought them under our custody.
“This is to tell you that the decision by the current management of NIS to commence on this Nationwide exercise is to actually curb the menace that is eating up our youths in the guise of going out of the country to look for greener pastures while in the real sense they are used as sex slaves.”
The Comptroller, however, handed the victims alongside suspected recruiters to NAPTIP saying: “I want to officially hand over these victims, the three victims, the recruiter and the transporter to NAPTIP so they could take charge and continue with the investigation and in the same prosecute the culprits.
Although we have not had this serious as I took over, this is the first time we have encountered this. And this is as a result of the sensitisation programme the NIS have embarked on that is what motivated us. That is what led to this success. I assure you that more of it will be unfolding because we have already synergised with owners of parks and market place.”
When interviewed, Sherry Gold, a nursing mother of a 2-month-old child, who is the said recruiter explained that: “There is this my friend in Benin, when I was pregnant, she called me and said she needed some girls that will travel to Ghana. She said I should help her to look for some girls but I was not interested. When I put to bed, she came to Port Harcourt to Onne and she came to my place and she brought one girl along and said she will take the girl along with her to Ghana, reminding her to still look for more girls for her. She told me the girls are going to Ghana for prostitution.
“Due to her insistent I saw one of the three girls and based on how I saw them, I talked with them and asked if they would like to travel, two of them responded that they will and they asked where, I told them it is to Ghana, that my friend who lives there wants some girls. As they showed interest, that was how I called my friend and sent one of the numbers to my friend who started to call them respectively.
“My friend sent me three thousand and asked if truly the girls have obliged and I said yes. But one of the girls said her mother is kicking against the idea. The three thousand she sent was for me to take them to Waterlines park but because of one of the girl’s indecision, my friend started calling and putting pressure on me, later they came back to tell me that they are ready to go, so my friend instructed me to take them to direct park so I will put them in a bus so police will not catch them and asked them questions.
“Why I accepted to talk to the girls is because my friend offered me something. She did not give me money but she promised that if I could bring the girls she will give me a small cut of the money. We didn’t bargain on the price though but it depends on how the girls are. I was into prostitution in Benin but have not done this type of business before. I am 21 and I dropped out of school in ss 3.”
According to one of the Victims, a 16-year-old, she said was promised lots of goodies, and even against her mother’s wish, the lady in Ghana advised her to nevertheless travel without her mother’s consent.
She said: “I was on my way going to the toilet when the lady approached me and asked if we would like to travel and one of us said yes that she would love to leave the country, but I told her I would first ask my mother and if she agrees I will give her feedback. She asked for my number, I gave it to him the next day she called and asked if we were ready to embark on our journey to Lagos and I still told her what I said the previous day. I eventually told my mother and my mother’s response was that her mind was not settled with the idea. So, that Friday, a number called and said the other sent her my number, wanting to know if I have made up my mind. She advised me not to tell my mom anything. She said when I reach I can my mother that I am already in Lagos. she promised to buy me things. She told me that we were going there to do prostitution.”