Two suspects who allegedly sold a 23-year-old girl for N1.2 million into slavery in Kuwait are currently being investigated by operatives of the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) in Lagos.
The suspects, identified as Paul Akpogherhe, 26; and Theophilus Ebiowei, 28, were arrested by men of the Lagos State Police Command, Festac Division after receiving complaints about their activities and how they sold the victim into slavery in Kuwait.
Crime Alert gathered that towards the end of April, the girl, identified as Okoangbele Quincy, met a young man called Paul Akpogherhe, in Festac, where she had attended an event. Eventually, they became friends and exchanged contact addresses.
After weeks of consistent communication between the duo, Paul introduced her to Theophilus Ebiowei and another person simply called Akin, who promised to help her secure a lucrative job abroad, in one of the Middle-East countries since she is a skilled caterer.
The prospects of securing a job outside the shores of Nigeria got Quincy interested as they pledged to help her process her visa and other necessary travelling documents. The suspects reportedly invited her to Festac where they explained to her that it would cost about N450,000 to process her visa and travelling documents to Kuwait.
When she got to home in Ikorodu, she explained everything to her parents. They assisted her in raising some amount of money which she added to her savings. After processing the traveling documents, they linked her with a female agent in Kuwait.
Unknown to her, the agent is a human trafficker in Kuwait. By the first week of June, she boarded a flight to Kuwait, and on arrival, the agent picked her up from the airport in Kuwait. Narrating her ordeal, Quincy, a daughter to a military officer said:
“Trouble started when the agent asked me if I had been briefed by the people who introduced me to her? I said no, but they said you would help me secure a job. To my surprise, the agent then told me that she had bought me from those people and that I was now her slave.
I told her that was not the arrangement. I explained to her that Paul and Theophilus said she will help me secure a job as there are better job opportunities in Kuwait, and they never mentioned they were selling me into slavery.
“She told me that I had no choice and that she has spent money to buy me and that she must get value for her money’s worth. Sensing that I may cause her trouble, the agent immediately sold me to another family who now recruited me as a slave.
“I was given a uniform worn by slaves in Kuwait. Anyone that sees me wearing that uniform immediately knows I am a slave and treats me like a leper. Apart from performing menial jobs, I was subjected to different inhuman treatment as a slave.
“As soon as it dawned on me that I was now a slave in a strange country, I began to seek ways to escape. Luckily, I met another Nigerian girl who has also been a slave to another family for almost a year, so she was a bit familiar with the area.
I told her that I wanted to go back to Nigeria since what I was being subjected to is not what I bargained for. She said there was no way of escaping, except we get to the Nigerian embassy in Kuwait. So, we both agreed that whenever we got an opportunity, we would flee to the Nigerian Embassy.
“As God would have it, the opportunity came and we left but not without hitches, as every taxi we stopped refused to halt because we were clad in a uniform which identified us as slaves. After attempting to board a cab for several hours, we pleaded with an Indian woman to help us stop a taxi after narrating our ordeal to her, since we had no clothes other than the slave uniform we wore to change into.
“The Indian woman stopped a taxi while we stood far off. She pleaded with the taxi driver to take us to the Nigerian Embassy. That was how we were able to get to the embassy where we got help. When we got to the Nigerian Embassy, the officials after listening to us, assisted us with necessary traveling documents to travel back to Nigeria. It was at the airport that officials bought clothes for us to change from the slave uniform before boarding a flight to Nigeria.”
Crime Alert gathered that Quincy’s sister was to join her in Kuwait when she called her family to tell them not to send her sister and that she has been sold into slavery. The victim’s family supported her travel plans for a job abroad, unsuspecting that the suspects had another plan.
It was learned that while Paul feigned ignorance, denying that he never knew that it was human trafficking, Theophilus admitted to committing the crime, stating that it was Paul that brought Quincy to them. He also said that they shared the proceeds from the sale which the woman in Kuwait paid.
Although she didn’t come with any of her personal effects from Kuwait, members of her family were happy she came back alive. She was later admitted in the hospital for days after she arrived. The case has been transferred to the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) for further investigation while efforts are on to arrest fleeing members of the gang that sold her into slavery