By Simon Ebegbulem
A Benin High Chief (names withheld), was arrested Thursday by officials of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and other related Matters, NAPTIP, for alleged involvement in the trafficking of a 16-year-old girl, Ese Egere, to Libya.
It was learnt that the wife of the Chief who Vanguard learnt is one of the kingpins in the trafficking of under- aged children abroad, escaped arrest when the officials stormed their home to effect their arrest. Vanguard learnt that though the Benin Chief denied being involved but there are pressure from prominent individuals in the state to release him.
It was learnt that the arrest of the Benin Chief, was sequel to a petition by one Mrs Joy Egere, to the NAPTIP, which alleged that her 16-year old daughter Ese, who was in Senior Secondary (SS) one, was taken to Libya without her consent.
When Vanguard visited the NAPTIP office in Benin City yesterday, the Chief was being interrogated while officials of the NAPTIP are still in search of the wife.
Vanguard was reliably informed that Ese, who recently spoke to her mother from Libya, said she was scared to come back due to the oath she took before she was taken away.
The petitioner and mother of the girl, Mrs Joy who spoke to Vanguard at the NAPTIP office, narrated that â€œI came back from the market that day and I could not find my daughter. I asked the father where she went to he said he does not know.
â€œSo I went to one of her friendâ€™s house, Abieyuwa, who told me that I am not aware that my daughter has traveled abroad. I asked who took her abroad; they said it was one Chief.
They took me to the Chiefâ€™s place, I met the wife who said I should pay her N200,000 before they will be able to bring my daughter back. I told her I want my daughter back and I donâ€™t have that amount of money. That was how I petitioned NAPTIP to help me find solution,â€ she narrated.
The NAPTIP Head of Investigation and Acting Zonal Head, Mr Aderemi Balogun, confirmed the arrest of the Benin Chief and said the agency was investigating the matter. â€œBut I cannot tell you more than that in order not to jeopardize our investigations. But the matter is being handled with all seriousness.”