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How child traffickers meet waterloo in Ekiti as mother, son jailed

By Victor Akinkuolie, Ado-Ekiti

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The menace of child trafficking in Ekiti State has become worrisome not only for the government, but parents and other residents of the state.

Similarly, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has also raised an alarm over what it called an alarming increase  in the cases of child trafficking in the state.

In a recent case, a 50-year-old cleric, Mrs. Grace Ebunoluwa Obadan, who was until her ordeal the founder and Shepherd in charge of a white-garment church in Ado-Ekiti, was sentenced to one year imprisonment, alongside her 23-year-old son, Okiki Obadan.

The duo were arraigned by the operatives of  National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) before Justice Babs Kuewumi of the Federal High Court, Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State, sometime in   September 2022.

They were arrested in Ibadan by the operatives of the Western Security Network code named Amotekun Oyo State and handed over to the officials of NAPTIP in Ekiti State for proper investigation and possible prosecution.

In another development, two clerics, Deaconess Dorcas Adefowoke and Prophetess Ebunoluwa Oyetunji, were arrested while making efforts to traffick two teenage girls to the Republic of Libya.

In separate confessional statements by the two clerics during interrogations by the officials of  NAPTIP, the duo confessed to have assembled more than 30 teenagers in preparation for same mission to Lybia, Burkinafaso, and Niger before they were arrested.

Preliminary investigation also revealed that the suspects who had formed a cartel always ferry the victims to these countries without the consent of their parents and guardians.

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The clerics, who have churches within Ado and Ikere-Ekiti, were already on their way to handover the victims to agents who would sell them as slaves in Libya before they were tracked down and arrested.

The victims were said to have been transferred to the zonal office of the agency in Osogbo, capital of Osun State to join others who are currently undergoing possible rehabilitation, while the suspects are currently detained at the Correctional Center, Ado-Ekiti,  awaiting judgement.

In an interview with the victims shortly before they were transferred to Osogbo, Boluwatife Shoremi (15) and Toyin Adefowoke (16) alleged that one of the suspects who is the founder of a church in Ikere-Ekiti, had promised to assist them to Canada, not knowing that they were on their way to a dangerous zone.

 Boluwatife  revealed that her step father maltreated her, which made her to abscond from home and was picked on the street in Ikere-Ekiti with a promise to be assisted to the United Kingdom.

Explaining further, Boluwatife, an indigene of Awo-Ekiti in Irepodun/Ifelodun Local Government area of Ekiti State, said she was a student of the Federal Polytechnic, Ado-Ekiti before she dropped out after the death of her father in 2020.

She said while the duo were with the prophetess, they came across a boyfriend who is currently at large who also told them that he could be of assistance to them on their planned journey to the United Kingdom.

“One of the clerics had told us that we would travel to London, saying that we would board a bus to Warri in Delta State from Akure the following day. She told us that someone would meet with us in Warri.

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“When we got to Warri, we met a sister called Nancy, who accommodated us for two days. Afterwards, she led us to where we boarded a bus to Onitsha. We were in Jalingo in Taraba State when Amotekun rescued us.

In an interview,  the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of NAPTIP in Ekiti State, Mr Oluwafemi Akeju, lamented  the increase in cases of child trafficking in the state since 2019  when the office of the agency was opened in Ekiti State.

He said the menace is most common among teenagers between the ages of 13-16 years. It is also rampant across five local government areas in the State.

Akeju mentioned the council areas where the menace is most common as, Moba, Ido/Osi, Gbonyin, Emure and Ado-Ekiti Local Government Areas.

On the efforts of the agency since it office was opened in the state, the NAPTIP spokesperson explained that in 2019 10 cases were recorded in the State, while two teenagers were rescued from the Republic of Libya. Also 14 persons were tried and jailed by the court.

In 2020, nine cases were recorded , while six victims were rescued by the agency. Seven persons were jailed by the court. In 2021, the agency recorded about 12 cases, rescued about 10 victims and jailed about 12 persons, among whom he said were clerics and church founders.

He added that as at July 2022, the agency had recorded about 13 cases and rescued about eight teenagers, while  two cases were presently in court, including the  clerics recently by the operatives of Amotekun.

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