The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP) has arrested two suspects, Awulonu Franklin and Joseph Ukaluo, in Abuja for alleged human trafficking.
The NAPTIP Director-General, Prof. Fatima Waziri-Azi, who disclosed this on Friday, June 16, said the officers of the agency arrested the trafficking syndicate at about 11 p.m. on Friday, June 9.
She said the suspects are part of the syndicate that specialises in moving young female Nigerians, between the ages of 16 to 26, to India for sexual exploitation and possible organ harvesting.
Waziri-Azi said a sting operation was conducted after several days of undercover activity by operatives of the agency, adding that two female victims, aged between 16 and 22, were rescued after they were taken to the Embassy.
The NAPTIP boss said the victims narrated their pathetic story of how they were lured by the syndicates.
Waziri-Azi disclosed that the victims were forced by the suspects to swear to an oath of allegiance in two shrines, located in Delta and Imo states.
She stated that one of the victims also revealed how her close friend who has already been trafficked to India was subjected to having sex with a minimum of 10 men daily.
She said the agency was on the trail of the suspects’ accomplices in India.
The NAPTIP DG said the two suspects, who claimed to be operating a mobile tour company as of the time of their arrest, were found in possession of 28 passports.
She said some of the passports indicated that the victims were from Ghana, Republic of Benin, Niger Republic, and other countries.
Waziri-Azi listed other materials found in possession of the suspects to include laptop, phones which are under forensic examination, and other equipment related to the commission of the crime.
She disclosed that 10 letter-headed papers belonging to different companies were also recovered from the suspects.
The NAPTIP boss said the agency had placed the hotel where the victims were harboured on red alert, noting that money was paid on behalf of the victims.
Waziri-Azi, therefore, called on the media to assist the agency by championing the awareness campaign against human trafficking in order to reduce the menace.
She said the agency had collaborated with many organisations and governments in order to launch a fresh angle to the fight against the crime.
However, Franklin, believed to be a prime suspect in the offence, denied involvement in trafficking, saying he only operates a travel and tour company through which he had assisted many people.
He said some of the passports recovered in his possession belonged to some of his clients travelling to study in some countries, including a University in India.
“My company is registered as ‘Endless travel and tour agent’, and I have been in this business since 2018,” he stated.
Ukaluo, on his part, said he knew Franklin as a travel agent and nothing more than that, adding that they had both lived in the same neighbourhood for many years.
The Director, Investigation and Monitoring Department, Daniel Atokolo, however, told journalists that an investigation into the matter was ongoing.
He said the investigation will involve forensic examination of all the properties recovered from the suspects.
Source: The Conclave
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