By Odita Sunday
Three suspected human traffickers have been arrested and 14 victims rescued by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) in Kogi State.
The suspects identified as Evelyn Jerry, 27; Stephen Rebecca, 30; and Richard Patrick, 38, were intercepted by soldiers along Lokoja-Abuja Road with children between ages three and 13 crammed into an eight-seater bus marked JJN964XB they rode in, NAPTIP said yesterday.
According to a statement by the agency’s spokesperson, Nneka Aniagoh, the suspects and victims were first handed over to the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) Lokoja, which handed them over to NAPTIP. She said the victims were taken from Riyom Local Government Area of Plateau State and being moved to Ekpoma in Edo State as domestic helps.
Aniagoh said the suspects claimed the victims’ parents gave consent for them to be given out as domestic helps, adding that both the suspects and victims were from the same town.
“They claimed that the parents of the 14 children gave consent to take them and send them to various households for domestic labour. The Director-General of NAPTIP, Dame Julie Okah-Donli expressed sincere appreciation to the officers of the Nigerian Army and the NIS for their contributory efforts in the interception, rescue and hand-over of the victims and suspects,” said Aniagoh.
Quoting the DG, Aniagoh said the national referral mechanism being put in place by NAPTIP and relevant agencies aimed to achieve synergy in eliminating human trafficking from the country.