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NAPTIP secures 5-yr jail term against human trafficker

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Written by Maritime First

… As Court sentences student for illicit drug trafficking***

The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) says it has secured a five-year jail term against one Mrs Mercy Owuzo, who specialized in human trafficking.

The Zonal Commander of NAPTIP, Mr Nduka Nwanwenne, disclosed this in an interview with the newsmen in Benin on Wednesday.

Also read: We’ve rescued 17,727 victims of trafficking, secured convictions of 511 – NAPTIP

Nwanwenne said that the 43-year-old travel agent cum businesswoman was convicted on Tuesday by a Federal High Court sitting in Asaba.

According to him, the woman was convicted by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Asaba in charge No. FHC/ASB/14c/2020.

He said that the convict was, however, given an option of a fine to the tune of N2 million.

He said that she was arraigned by the Benin Zonal Command of the agency for organising foreign travels, “which promotes prostitution and harbouring the victims with the intent to induce them into prostitution”.

Nwanwenne further said that the offence contravenes various provisions of the Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Law Enforcement and Administration Act 2015.

He said: “The convict, who resides in Dubai and Nigeria, claimed that her business involves processing visas for those who want to travel on holidays.

“She recruited two victims and promised them jobs as sales personnel in a shopping mall in Dubai.

“As soon as the victims were recruited, they were taken to a popular church in Lagos for prayers for four days and cream and sponges were allegedly used to purify them.

“On arrival in Dubai, their passports were seized and they were lodged in a rented apartment.

“And she demanded the sum of N5 million from each of them as sponsorship refund”.

The NAPTIP zonal boss also disclosed that in sentencing the accused, the judge hinged his decision on Section 321
of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, which empowers it to order restitution and compensation.

He said: “Consequently, the convict was ordered to pay a fine of N2 million in lieu of imprisonment.

“The two victims are to be given half-a-million naira each, while N1 million is to go to NAPTIP for training and awareness creation on issues of human trafficking.”

Newsmen report that Benin’s zonal command covers Edo, Delta and Bayelsa states.

In another development, a Federal High Court sitting in Ado-Ekiti has convicted a 27-year-old student, Muyiwa Sunmade, for dealing in 100 grammes of Indian Hemp and 1.6 grammes of  psychotropic substance.

Delivering judgment on Wednesday, the Presiding Judge, Justice Babs Kuewumi, convicted Sunmade, and ordered that he should go for six months counseling at the office of the National Drug Laws Enforcement Agency, (NDLEA).

“Upon listening to evidence of the prosecutor side by side with the plea of guilty by the defendant, the defendant is hereby convicted as charged.

“As for sentence, because, I do not want the convict to forfeit his admission and future, he is to undergo six months counseling at the NDLEA,” Justice Kuewumi said.

He, however, added that the convict must be of good conduct, warning that, if the convict commit similar offence within the next five years  and brought before the court, he would be made to face the full consequences.

The convict had earlier pleaded guilty to the charge leveled against him when it was read to him by the court.

The NDLEA’s Prosecutor, Mrs Beatrice Igberaise, had earlier told the court that the convict committed the offence on March 28, at Nova Junction, Adebayo Area of Ado-Ekiti.

She told the court that the offence committed contravened Section 11(C) of the NDLEA Act, Cap N30 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004.

Reviewing the facts of the case, the prosecutor tendered as exhibits, confessional statement of the defendant, test certificate and bulk of the substance before the court, which were admitted and marked as exhibits.

She prayed the court to convict the accused as charged, telling the court, however, that the new guide from the agency’s headquarters in Abuja sent to the Ekiti Command just a week ago gives room for counseling.

The Defence Counsel, Mr Samson Ayodeji, prayed the court to temper justice with mercy on the issue of sentencing.

Ayodeji told the court that the convict was a first time offender and that his client, who lost his father to the cold hand of death long ago had confided in him to be of good behaviour and never involved in crime again.


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Maritime First