By Oboh Agbonkhese
The 25-year-old Blessing Gabriel, accused of running a syndicate involved in trafficking girls to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, for sexual exploitation, told journalists in Lagos, Tuesday, that one of the girls that appeared in a nude video that went viral knew she was coming for sex work.
Gabriel said: “I have Ann on audio recording saying ‘I am ready to do anything, including prostitution, in Dubai’.
“I help men get work as drivers, hotel workers and so on in Dubai. This is the first time I am getting involved with a girl. It was Ann’s sister that made the initial contact when one Madam Gina, in Dubai, said she needed a girl to work at a hair-dressing saloon.”
She claimed that when Ann arrived Dubai, she took her to the said Gina, who went with Ann to an inner room, where the video must have been made.
She spoke to newsmen at National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and other Related Matters, NAPTIP’s office in Lagos, when they were paraded along with the other suspects.
The others are Precious Owoh, 29; Rose Gabriel, 25; Priscilla (Prisca) Bassey, 33; and Terry Smooth, 38.
On her part, Smooth, who was accused of supplying girls for the sex trade, said she only gave shelter to girls at her Lekki duplex and had nothing to do with the trafficking.
She expressed surprise that NAPTIP see her as a suspect as she had gone to police to tell them she knew the person in the nude video and produced Ann’s sister, only for her to be told by police that she had no case.
Asked why she charged each girl living in her house N10,500 weekly, Smooth said: “I have two security men, pay cable bills, feed the girls, pay light and sundry bills. We need to spend money for these.
“I insist that I know nothing about human trafficking. I have my business. Ask them (referring to the other suspects), no male visitor is allowed in my house. They go out to do their hustle.”
‘We’re still investigating’
However, NAPTIP’s Zonal Commander, Lagos, Mr. Joseph Famakin, said the suspects were all telling tales to suit themselves and that after proper investigation, they will be prosecuted.
According to him, human trafficking is a dent on the country’s image and needed to be removed in line with the change agenda of the Federal Government.
He added that apart from prosecuting cases of human trafficking and organ harvesting, the agency was involved in enlightenment programme, such as the collaboration with the European Union-backed Encouraging Legal Migration, Discouraging Illegal Migration campaign at border communities.
He said NAPTIP currently has 45 cases at the High Court, seven at the Court of Appeal and two at the Supreme Court.
The agency’s Deputy Director and Head, Press and Public Relations, Mr. Josiah Emerole, said: “One of the two victims, Ann, is with the agency (she made a brief appearance), while another, Chisom, was out of the reach of her traffickers, but in contact with the agency.”