Katsina — It was tales of woes last night in Katsina as 23 victims of human trafficking from Katsina and Zamfara States who were sold into slavery in Benin Republic and taken to Burkina Faso narrated their plight.
LEADERSHIP gathered that two of the 25 victims scheduled to return yesterday, opted to remain in Burkina Faso. They were alleged to be afraid of coming home because they were members of the syndicate which lured the returnees into the modern slavery in that country. Another six instead of seven were confirmed to have left Burkin Faso ostensibly for Nigeria on their own immediately they regained freedom.
One of the returnees, Abubakar Ahmed, 25, revealed that sometimes they went for days without food during their 70-day servitude in Burkina Faso.
Ahmed, an indigene of Gawa village in Kankara local government area of Katsina State, said that they were subjected to digging trenches for a telecommunication service provider at Gaoua, a town 150km from Ouagadougou, the Burkina Faso capital, where they were given food at times after two or more days.
According to him, they had to resort to begging for food in order to survive because whatever was given to them was inadequate or they were not given anything at all.
Another victim, Safilahi Sani, who hails from Gusau, Zamfara State, corroborated this, adding that they were made to undertake other odd labour for a local mining outfit under sub-human conditions.
Asked how they regained their freedom, Sani said that they tipped off officials of the Nigerian Embassy in Ougadougou after they were made to labour for two months without pay contrary to the promise that would receive salaries every month.
While receiving the returnees, Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State, assured them that the state government would not relent on its efforts to bringing back any of the state indigene still trapped in Burkina Faso.
Masari lamented that even the elderly persons among the victims were not spared the ordeals and commended the cooperation of the Nigerian envoy to Burkina Faso, Hajia Ramaru Ahmed, and the support of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS).
The 23 'slaves' were brought back by the newly appointed special adviser to the governor on Narcotics and Human Trafficking, Hamza Burodo, who was dispatched to Ouagadougou with a 30-seater bus for the mission.