A Benin High Court in Edo State has sentenced a 47-year-old human trafficker, Richard Ehigie, to seven years’ imprisonment.
The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons had arraigned the convict, who resides at no 71, Osakue St., off Nomayo Road, Benin City, on four counts.
The charge bordered on recruitment of a person by means of abuse, position of vulnerability, assistance to a person engaged in an act of trafficking in persons, and facilitation and exportation of persons for prostitution,
The prosecution said the charge contravened provisions of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015.
Justice Alero Edodo-Erauga found him guilty as charged and sentenced him to seven years’ imprisonment.
The judge sentenced the convict to one-year imprisonment in count one; and two years each in counts two to four respectively.
He, however, gave the convict an option to pay a fine of N250,000 in count one and a fine of N1m each in counts 2 to 4.
Edodo-Erauga, who ruled that the sentence would run concurrently, added that the fine was cumulative.
NAPTIP’s Zonal Commander in Benin, Mr. Nduka Nwanwenne, hailed the judgment and told the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday in Benin that the agency would continue to watch out for offenders like the convict.
Nwanwenne said that NAPTIP, in collaboration with the Joint Border Task Force, a multi-disciplinary crime fighting task force, had investigated the matter when it got wind of the case, arrested and arraigned the convict in court.
He said that investigation revealed that the convict had recruited a female victim whom he trafficked to his Russia-based daughter, where she was subsequently exploited.
The zonal commander disclosed that the convict had taken the trafficked victim to a shrine and made her to take an oath of secrecy with a chicken, an egg, local gin and kolanut, administered by a herbalist.
“The oath enjoined her to pay her madam the sum of $55,000 (About N19.2m) for a period of between six months and one year.
“Upon which necessary documents and visas were procured for the victim as well as air ticket for the journey.
“She was not to run away or report her madam in Russia to the Police and failure to pay the agreed sum, as part of the oath taking, will make her go mad,’’ he said.
Nwannwenne told NAN that based on the evidence of the victim, on arrival in Russia, her phone and passport were seized by her madam, one Bridget Ehigie, in connivance with her boyfriend, Kingsley.
According to the NAPTIP commandant, the victim was made to pay 10,000 rubles ($160.50) as rent, and additional 50,000 rubles ($802.01) to service the cartel’s website.
He said the victim had already paid about $40,000 to her madam, before she decided to leave when she could no longer cope with the stress of working as a commercial sex worker.
Nwannwenne, who oversees NAPTIP’s operations in Edo and Delta states, said, “It was after the thorough investigation and all the evidence gathered, that we arraigned and prosecuted the convict.’’Follow Henzyworld on Social media