Victor Akinkuolie, Ado-Ekiti.
The menace of child trafficking in Ekiti State has assumed an alarming dimension, as impeccable sources reveal a stunning yearly statistics spanning three years that indicate daily increase in the crime.
From recent media reports, citizens of the state and its environs were shocked by the revelation that even leaders in the household of faith are not left out of the menace and are deeply embroiled in the trafficking.
Two prophetesses of a white garment church were discovered to have been running a child trafficking racket under the pretext of helping them to secure visa to London.
Recently, the long arms of the law caught up with the two women who were allegedly involved in child trafficking.
Sources said that for about four years, the state has witnessed upsurge in cases of child trafficking.
The increase has become worrisome, not only for the State Government, but for parents and other residents of the State. The child traffickers usually pick teenagers who have strayed from home.
The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) involved heavily in the fight against child trafficking has also raised an alarm over what it called an increase in the cases of child trafficking in the state.
According to the Public Relations Officer of NAPTIP in Ekiti State, Mr Oluwafemi Akeju, there has been a noticable increase in the cases of child trafficking in the state since 2019 when the office of the agency was opened.
He said child trafficking is most common among teenagers of between the ages of 13 and 16. It is also rampant in five local government areas in the State, such as Moba, Ido/Osi, Gbonyin, Emure and Ado-Ekiti local government areas.
On the efforts of the agency since its office was opened in the state, the NAPTIP spokesperson explained that in 2019, ten cases were recorded in the state, while two teenagers were rescued from Libya. He disclosed that 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 twelve persons who he said were clerics and church founders.
He added that as at July, 2022 the agency had recorded about 13 cases, rescued about eight teenagers, while the two cases were presently in the court, including the recently arrested women by the operation of Western Nigeria Security Network, code named Amotekun.
The suspects whom he identified as Deaconess Dorcas Adefowoke and Prophetess Ebunoluwa Oyetunji, were arrested while making efforts to traffick two teenage girls to Libya.
In a separate confessional statement by the duo, they confessed to have converged more than 30 teenagers in preparation for same mission to Lybia, Burkinafaso, Omar and Niger before the arrest.
It was also confirmed that preliminary investigations revealed that the suspects who had formed a cartel always finalized arrangements and ferried the victims to all these countries without the consent of their parents.
The NAPTIP spokesperson said the suspects who owned churches within Ado and Igbimo-Ekiti, were already on their way to hand over the victims to agents who would sell them as slaves to Libya before they were tracked down and arrested.
He said the victims had been transferred to the zonal office of the agency in Osogbo, the capital of Osun State, to join others who are currently undergoing possible rehabilitation.
“Though the suspects are currently detained at the Correctional Center in Ado-Ekiti, while the trial is ongoing, the case is one of the cases being prosecuted by the agency in the court”
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 white garment church in Igbimo-Ekiti, had promised to help them travel to London not knowing that they were on their way to a dangerous zone.
Another victim, Shoremi Boluwatife, revealed that she absconded from home because she was sexually harrassed by her cousin, a student of Federal Polytechnic, Ado.
The case which she said is currently before a Magistrate Court in Ado-Ekiti made her to abscond from home and was roaming the streets when she came across the other victim, before they came across the Prophetess who promised to assist them to London after staying with her for some months.
Explaining further, Boluwatife, an indegene of Awo-Ekiti in Ido/Osi local government, 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 boy named Okiki who told them that his mother who was a founder could also be of assistance to them on their planned journey to the United Kingdom.
“Okiki’s mother also assured us that we would travel to London, saying that we would board a bus to Warri from Akure the following day. She told us that someone would meet with us in Warri.
“When we got to Warri, we met with a sister called Lizzy, 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,” she explained.
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