By Victor Akinkuolie, Ado-Ekiti
A 33-year-old victim of human trafficking in Ekiti State, Miss Tosin Damilola Apata, has recounted her ordeals on how she was sold into prostitution in far away Bamako, the capital of the Republic of Mali.
Apata, who until her ordeal was a graduate of Business Administration from the Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, said she was lured into traveling by an agent, Mr Ojo Apata, who later handed her over to another agent enroute Seme border to Portnovo in Benin Republic and she finally found herself in Bamako, the capital of Mali.
The victim who is currently recuperating at the office of the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and other Related Matters (NAPTIP) Ekiti State chapter, said she embarked on the journey by land for about four weeks and went through many ordeals before she finally arrived the Republic of Mail.
She explained that she was humiliated by the agent who is currently detained at the office of the NAPTIP in Ado-Ekiti, and later handed over to a senior officer of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) who later completed and perfected the journey to the Republic of Mali where she was forced into prostitution.
The physically traumatized girl explained that she met many other victims who were also of Yoruba extraction in Bamako, Mali who were also engaged in prostitution.
Lamenting over the trauma faced by victims of human Trafficking especially those in the Republic of Mali, she explained that she stayed in the country for a month and some days before she came back to Nigeria.
“The second day we arrived in the country, they invited a doctor to come and give us an injection, but I refused to take the injection, since I knew that I was not staying in the place.
“When I came back, I was physically exhausted due to what I went through in Bamako and what I saw in the place. My mother thought I was mentally derailed when she saw me. I have been on drugs since I came back and still recuperating.”
The victim tasked Ekiti State Government and the NAPTIP on the imperative of tackling the menace of human trafficking in the state in order to protect the dignity of Ekiti citizens.
She equally urged NAPTIP to spread its dragnets and track down those who were makting Ekiti one of the transit states of the evil work.
In a confessional statement signed by the suspect, Mr Ojo Abefe, an indigene of Ada in Boripe local government area of Osun State, he described himself as an innocent bystander, claiming that he initially planned that the suspect would travel to Canada before she was lured to go to Mali by another agent at Seme border.
He was arrested by the operatives of the anti-trafficking section of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) and handed over to the NAPTIP for further investigation and possible prosecution.
He was alledged to have sold two ladies, a minor and a graduate of Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, to Mali for the purpose of prostitution.
Parading the suspect, the Ekiti State Head of Operations, NAPTIP, Mr Samson Oladimeji, confirmed that the suspect was handed over to the agency by the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, NSCDC, Ekiti State.
Oladimeji lamented that human trafficking has become rampant in the state, which must be curtailed by all means.
He confirmed that about 18 suspects have been arrested between January and September, while 23 victims have so far been rescued from Libya, Mall, Togo as well as Burkinafaso.
He said the suspect who is currently undergoing investigations at the office of the agency in Ado-Ekiti would be arraigned in court as soon as investigation is completed on the matter.
Oladimeji, revealed that many victims of human trafficking were being dangerously exposed to exploitation, prostitution, slavery and other nefarious acts that often subject them to harrowing experiences, deaths and untold sufferings.
He added that most pathetic was the fact that those falling victims are children of school age and those from less privileged background.
He warned that the agency won’t spare whoever is caught in the web of such unwholesome and criminal act in the state, saying they will be made to face the full weight of the law.
“Human trafficking is a crime against humanity. It is an infringement on the rights of the Nigerian citizens. Most worrisome of this occurrence is the fact that the traffickers operate like syndicates.
“They have their rings in some of the states. In 2022, the Nigerian Immigration Service raised the alarm over attempt by human traffickers to make Ekiti one of their transit states.
“So, NAPTIP as agency, we have a lot to do. Our operatives must be on their toes to make Ekiti free from this criminal and dangerous act.”