By Olayinka Latona
Udoka Enohuean (not real names) is a self-confessed human trafficking survivor. According to her, in a bid to get a lucrative job and make life meaningful for her family, she ran into trouble as she became a prostitute in Burkina Faso. Meanwhile, the job did not give her the money she craved for.
The native of Ishan, Edo State said: “I was 18 years old when a business woman in our community took some ladies and I to Burkina Faso. The initial deal was that she will take us to Senegal and then to Europe. But, surprisingly, she took us to Burkina Faso and she was nowhere to be found the following morning we arrived there. Unknown to us, she had sold us to a man”, She told her story to Sunday Vanguard during the Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Church yearly programme, tagged, ‘Mgbidi 2015?.”
“Immediately, our heads, armpit, private parts were shaved and the hair used to initiate us into some cult. So horrifying, some of the girls went mad during the initiation. You could be asked to visit a burial ground late in the night for the ritual or sleep with a dead body. Later, we lived in a hotel where we operated as prostitutes and what we earned used to pay this man every day. Everything turned gloomy for me. I found myself in thick darkness of prostitution that I could not deliver myself from. It was a horrible situation,”the victim said.
“We had a booklet each where we recorded our returns everyday and once the money for which we were sold to the man was paid, which could be paid within five to nine months, freedom will be organised for such a person.
“My boss took us to a native doctor who gave us some charm to protect us from being arrested by law enforcement agents, With the aid of the charm, we could manipulate men to give us more cash after sex.
“Within months, I completed my payment but I was tired of such a life and I told my boss I wanted to go back home. But she refused. So I ran to the community leader for help. I also went to the Nigerian embassy in Burkinan Faso but no one listened to me. Rather, the government officials of that country arrested me and took me to Abuja where I was detained with criminals for three months in a police station. I was later paraded as a criminal.”
“After my release, I was determined to take thousands of Nigerian girls to Burkina Faso. I became a girl-trafficker. I traveled to my village, dressing gorgeously and flaunting money to young girls. I was able to take some girls to Burkina Faso. I did this in annoyance because when I needed help, government officials refused to help me because the people involved in child-trafficking knew many security agents and they could bribe their way out. I realized if one could join the group, it was easy to take girls out of the country.
‘ Traffickers take advantage of porous border’
“The Seme border was a no-go area for us because security personnel there were very strict, but we always bribed our way through the Saki border. And there was no need for international passport to cross the border at the Saki border. An identity card was enough, especially if it was accompanied by a few Naira notes and we always had a smooth journey. Most of the officers there knew we were involved in human trafficking”.
Cry to government
Enohuean, now mother of five children, called on the Federal Government to tackle youth unemployment from further being trafficked abroad for prostitution, adding that many of the girls become victims because of their quest for employment and better life outside the country. “An unemployed hand is a prey for traffickers. State and federal governments should please set up a body to look into the cases of those trafficked abroad, especially for prostitution, with a view to helping them. We have hundreds of our girls who are tired of the business of prostitution abroad but now have nowhere to turn to”, she said.