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Trafficking victim dies after 320 abortions

By The Citizen
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Abigail, one of the victims of a Libya based human trafficking ring operating in Nigeria, has died, days after she was rescued from a prostitution cartel in Libya. Saturday Mirror had reported that Abigail, 26, was among more than 500 girls trafficked to Libya for prostitution by a Nigerian syndicate allegedly led by a couple, Alhaji Muritala Sanni and his wife Alhaja Lateefat Sanni, who are still on the run from law enforcement agents.

Tunde Oshokoya , a human rights activist and private investigator who worked with the Alliance of Rights Defenders (ARD), a non-profit organisation based in Lagos involved in rescuing three of the trafficked girls revealed Abigail's death.

He said 'It is with heavy heart that we announce Abigail's passing. She died after a brief illness she came down with while she was in Libya. Since we rescued her, we took her for treatment but she gave up the ghost. 'It is sad that ARD, an NGO took up the responsibility to rescue and rehabilitate trafficked victims without any assistance from government'.

Barrister Ojay Akinwale, the Chief Executive Officer of ARD expressed sadness over the death and urged government to take human trafficking seriously.

Saturday Mirror had reported that Abigail was among three trafficked victims rescued from prostitution in Libya by ARD. She had claimed in the interview that she was trafficked to Libya in 2013, after she was lured there to work as an Auxiliary nurse. She also claimed that she was forced to abort about 320 pregnancies for girls working for the prostitution ring in Libya.

Abigail who was very ill during the interview had expressed fear that she would die if she exposed the Libya human trafficking syndicate. She added that soon after her rescue, she received a threat from the syndicate in Libya that she will die if she exposed them. In spite of the threat; Abigail went ahead and narrated her ordeal in the hands of the traffickers. She said 'I was living in Bayelsa State. I am an orphan.My parents are dead and I live with my siblings. After my parents died, the responsibility to cater for my siblings fell on me as I was the oldest child. Sometimes in 2013, my sister's friend Nursi came to our house in Bayelsa and saw me resting. She told me I was looking bored. Nursi then told me to come over to Lagos to meet her that she will introduce me to people that will assist me financially. I was interested and I travelled to Lagos see Alhaja Lateefat and her husband Alhaji Muritala Sanni. They told me they can help me to make good money as an auxiliary nurse in Italy. 'I told them that I had only worked as an axulliary nurse in Nigeria but they assured me that they have connections in Italy. They told me to pay N10,000 for passport. After I paid the amount, Alhaji Muritala took two other ladies with me to see an herbalist called Ewe. Ewe put gin in a concoction pot and missed it with a black fish. He gave three of us to eat the concoction. After we ate the concoction, Alhaji Muritala took us to the bus park and we travelled to Kano by road. We met other agents who later moved us by road through the desert to Libya. I was scared and each time I asked them when the plane will come to take us to ltaly, the agent will tell me that we have to pass through desert first. At the end, we landed in Libya and Alhaji Muritala told us that we have reached our destination. 'They locked us up in one room with fifty other girls.

We were not allowed to go out and they beat us mercilessly if we attempted to escape' Asked what she was taken to Libya to do for the trafficking syndicate, Abigail said she was forced to abort pregnancies for the girls. 'I was later moved from the room where I stayed with other girls to a private room where I was locked up. Alhaji Muritala and his wife control two brothels. One is called New York Up and the other is called White House. 'I was in New York Up alone in a room where they have kept surgical instruments for me to abort pregnancies. Each day, they bring girls to my room to have me about their pregnancies. Alhaja Lateefat does not allow the girls to abort when they are one month pregnant. She waited until the pregnancies are up to four months and then forced me to abort for the girls. These girls were deceived by the couple Alhaji Muritala and Alhaja Lateefat Sanni that they are bringing them to Italy to work as hairdressers and tailors. These girls are as young as 9 years to 15 years old and they are forced to sleep with men as old as firty years without protection. There was a day I was moved with sympathy and I assisted a 9 year old girl to escape. I got beating whenever I refused to abort for the girls. Alhaja Lateefat will use mopping stick to beat me mercilessly. 'I have aborted three hundred and twenty pregnancies. The teenage girls also told me they used cumuber to disvirgin them before they are forced to sleep with men.

These men are usually criminals but Alhaja Lateefat and Alhaji Muritala do not care. All they are after is money and more money'. Abigail further narrated how she and other girls were forced to part with millions of naira before they were freed by the gang. She said 'I became fed up with the situation in the brothel and I went to meet Alhaja Lateefat to give me freedom but she beat me up and said I have to pay her N2.4 million before I can go. I had to look for that money because she said that's what the other girls paid and since I don't have parents or any relations to send the money to her, then I should work for it if I want to get my freedom. God helped me and brought two men to assist me pay. 'These men are armed robbers and whenever they come to visit me, I take from their money and pay gradually until I paid up the N2.4 million. Alhaja Lateefat and her husband still owe me N1.5 million for the work I did for them. It is sad that I did not come back 'with anything to show for my three years labour in Libya. They took my money and put this sickness in me. I became very ill after I went in January to tell Alhaji Muritala that I cannot continue work but he refused to pay me my money.

I got help from a church through the assistance of Alliance of Rights Defenders(ARD) to come back to Nigeria. 'I and two other girls were brought back by air on March 11th. We are very ill and need government help' It was gathered following the revelations, the NGO petitioned the Inspector General of Police IGP Solomon Arase to arrest members of the fleeing syndicate and rescue other girls still held in captivity in Libya.'

When contacted, the Zonal Commander of National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Person ( NAPTIP) Mr.Joseph Famakin stated that Abigail did not die in their custody. He said 'I am just hearing from you that she is dead. The truth is that I don't know who this Abigail is but we have reunited the trafficked victims with their families and so none of them died in our custody. - National Mirror.