For the first time in 18 years, the Industrial Court of Nigeria, Benin had on Wednesday sent seven persons to jail for various offences of human trafficking.
The Judge of the Industrial Court, Justice A A Adewememo jailed the convicts on various offences like trafficking in humans, baby selling and others in accordance with the law establishing the National Agency Prohibiting Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP).
Commenting on the historic judgement at the court premises, the Zonal Commander of NAPTIP, Benin Zonal Command, Barr. Nduka Nwanwanne, said “this is the first time in the history of NAPTIP seven persons will be convicted in one day since 2004” as he warned members of the public to desist from human trafficking and other criminal activities as the long arms of the law always catch up with them.
He said it was unfortunate that some survivors have turned to traffickers as in one of the cases today she was rescued by NAPTIP but later turned round to traffic a 14 year old girl to Burkina Faso for sexual exploitation.
Briefing some newsmen who were in court as part of the 3-day media training workshop for Journalists on “Countering Trafficking In Persons, (CTIP), organized by Network Against Child Trafficking, Abuse and Child Labour, (NACTAL) in collaboration with USAID in Benin, Edo state, the Chief Legal Officer NAPTIP, Tonia Mbemeje said, “we had seven convictions today (December 7, 2022). First one was the case of Federal Government and Ameze Ughoriaki sentenced to two years imprisonment and, N200, 000 fine and she was charged under procurement under section 13 of the act”.
She said that Amaze was already serving five years term and now has bagged additional two years.
Mbemeje further stated that the second case, Lucky Ogodo was “jailed for 12 months imprisonment and fine of N50, 000 for organising foreign travel which section 18 prohibits prostitution while Fatima Joy Joseph trafficking in persons was jailed for three years imprisonment and final one case of three persons convicted of trafficking in persons, selling of babies and were convicted a year each and fine of N200, 000 each” .
However, the case of Solomon Chimezie was adjourned to January 30, 2023 to allow him bring his lawyer in court.
On what the judgment portends, Mbeneje said this shows that NAPTIP is working and watching and “if you see something say something . You can be your brother’s keeper. Some people think these things are not crime. When you inform your neighbour your neighbour can report to NAPTIP. The public should be watchful”.
In the case of the three ladies, the husband to one of them, Chukwu Ebuka Obasi from Anambra state in an interview in court said “my wife from Delta connived with her mother the third lady and sold my babies and up till now the babies cannot be found”. Before the judgment he however pleaded for their mercy.
The counsel to the three ladies pleaded for less sentence citing Supreme Court judgement noting that they pleaded guilty and did not waste the time of the court as the three ladies had to kneel down in the dock pleading for forgiveness.
In her judgement on the three ladies who sold the first child for N250, 000 and the second for N300, 000, Justice Adewememo said the culprits must be convicted to serve as a deterrent to others in accordance with the law.
She said “it was sad that a woman gave birth to babies and later sold them out. It’s pathetic and justice must take its course. I hereby sentence you one year in prison on the two counts and will run concurrently with N200,000 fine to all the defendants”