Nigeria: 5 Years After Oba of Benin Invocation, Edo Sex Victims Brace-Up Against Traffickers

22 April 2023

The long war against human trafficking in Edo State and other parts of the nation by various state governments and other stakeholders seems to be recording milestones regardless of the challenges amid global synergy and efforts to curb human trafficking most especially for sexual exploitation and monetary gains.

This is even as the fight to end the dangerous menace, especially sexual exploitation often suffer setbacks largely due to oaths of secrecy between the victims and their traffickers.

The negative effect of this trade most often than not leads to the death of victims in mysterious circumstances.

Edo State is recorded to be one of the epicentres of sex slaves as thousands of trafficked girls had been rescued and repatriated in the last five years. It is also on record that successive governments in Edo State and traditional institutions, especially the Benin monarch have taken bold and decisive steps in the fight against the illicit trade.

However, the recent investigation indicated that the trade still strives as some of the willing victims now find Dubai as one of the destination points despite efforts by relevant government agencies to stem the tide.

Victims Fight Back

An investigation by our correspondent shows that some of the victims are defying the odds against their traffickers who are bent on sexually exploiting them without minding the consequences.

Many of these victims are dying in silence owing to the oath of secrecy they entered before native doctors.

As part of efforts against trafficking, the Oba of Benin had in 2018 renounced curses on trafficked victims when he summoned chiefs and native doctors to his palace where curses placed on trafficked girls by their 'madams' was renounced.

The outcome of Oba's intervention was to free trafficked girls from the spiritual curse and financial bondage placed on them by their traffickers. The Oba had used the occasion to also place a curse on the traffickers and priests who continue to engage in the practice of trafficking, aiding and abetting trafficking, and urged victims to speak out.

The Monarch's action yielded positive results and commendation globally as most of the victims heave a sigh of relief from their 'madam' who has enslaved them for years.

LEADERSHIP Weekend however gathered that some of the notorious traffickers now take their victims to native doctors in neighbouring states to administer oaths on them probably to escape curses placed in Benin by the Oba.

UK Madam In The Eyes Of The Storm Over Death Threat

Giving credence to the above came to the fore when a 21 years old trafficked victim, from Benin City, simply identified as Betty (not real name), trafficked to Dubai, raised the alarm of a death threat from her madam, popularly referred to as 'Avira De Vaille' presently based in the Manchester, United Kingdom.

Betty's revelation came following a letter of summon from an 'Ayelala' native doctor in Ondo State said to have been submitted to the father of the trafficked girl in Benin.

The victim was summoned by her madam to the native doctor for reneging on their agreement to pay the sum of N5 million purportedly agreed between her and the said madam (trafficker).

Betty in an interview said she had so far paid the N3.2 million to the account of her madam and decided to break the oath of secrecy as she can no longer sustain the exploitative agreement.

Narrating her ordeal to LEADERSHIP Weekend she said, "So far, I have paid the sum of N3.2 million into Margaret Cole's Polaris bank with accounts No: 1041199420. Even this morning she sent me a voice note insisting that I must pay or face severe consequences. I started paying her in December 2022. I used to pay her between N200,000 to N300,000 every week.

"Initially, I was paying the money into her friend's account before she asked me to reverse it to her account. Even when I was coming to Dubai she gave me $1,000 to buy things and also introduced me to her in-law called Omoruyi.

"It was when they brought the threat letter from the voodoo priest that my father arrested the sister. I was told that trafficked girls pay between N2 million and N3 million. Why should I be forced to pay N5 million as if it is Europe?

But the accused, who reside in London when contacted, denied trafficking anybody to Dubai for sexual exploitation.

"I don't know anything. What is she doing in Dubai? This is a girl I supported in paying her school fee. Did she not tell you about that? The issue you are talking about is currently a subject of investigation at Ekiadolor police station in Benin.

"If you want to find out anything on the matter contact her brother called Osaro. Don't call my line again, please," she said.

Another trafficked victim who is 27-year-old (name withheld) is currently trapped in Dubai and has cried out for help following constant threats from her trafficker, whom she alleged to have trafficked her to Dubai.

The victim who has gone into hiding from her trafficker spoke in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP Weekend said she can no longer continue with the agreement as she was constantly exploited by her trafficker.

She claimed to have paid the sum of 10,000 Dirham out of the 20,000 Dirham agreed.

Trouble however started when she complained of having excruciating pain in her womb due to the high number of clients that patronised her daily.

She narrated that despite her current health challenges her trafficker insisted that she must pay up or face severe circumstances.

She, therefore called on the federal government, and relevant non governmental organisations, and the chairman of Diaspora Commission, Hon Abike Dabiri to come to her rescue as she can no longer continue with the acclaimed oldest professions.

In a faint laden voice apparently occasioned by the pains with her womb, she said, "I can't continue with this work. But my trafficker insisted that I must pay him the balance of 10,000 Dirham or be ready to face dire consequences and I'm scared.

"Since I came to Dubai he has been threatening and disturbing me. My womb can't withstand the daily sex; the work has affected my womb. I am tired and need protection.

"Out of the 20, 000 Dirham I have paid him 10, 000 which is equivalent to N2 million and as I speak I am even pregnant due to burst condoms. I even appealed to him to give me some cash to terminate the pregnancy but he refused".

"Part of our agreement was for him to renew my international passport which has since expired but he also refused to do that. So I am calling for help and protection".

On his part, the executive directive, Initiative for Youth Awareness on Migration, Immigration, Development and Re-integration, Solomon Okoduwa, frowned on the action of the trafficker and promised to collaborate with relevant security agencies to rescue the victim from the den of the trafficker.

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