NAPTIP arrests two human trafficking suspects in Abuja
The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons has arrested two suspects in Abuja over alleged human trafficking.
The suspects are Awulonu Franklin and Joseph Ukaluo.
The Director-General of the agency, Prof. Fatima Waziri-Azi, disclosed on Friday that officers of the agency busted the trafficking syndicate on Friday at about 11:00 hours.
She said that the suspects are part of the syndicate that specialises in moving young female Nigerians between the ages of 16 and 26 to India for sexual exploitation and possible organ harvesting.
Waziri-Azi said that a sting operation was conducted after several days of undercover activity by operatives of the agency.
She said two female victims, aged between 16 and 22, were rescued just as they were being taken to the Embassy.
According to him, the victims narrated their pathetic story of how they were lured by the syndicates.
The DG disclosed that the suspects forced the victims to swear to an oath of allegiance in two shrines, located in Delta and Imo.
Waziri-Azi stated that one of the victims also revealed how her very close friend who has already been trafficked to India was subjected to having sex with a minimum of 10 men daily.
She further said that the agency was on the trail of the suspects’ accomplices in India.
The DG said that the two suspects, who claimed to be operating a mobile tour company as at the time of their arrest, were found in possession of 28 passports.
She said some passports indicated that the victims were from Ghana, the Republic of Benin, the Niger Republic and other countries.
Waziri-Azi listed other materials found in the possession of the suspects as Laptops, phones which are under forensic examination, and other equipment related to the commission of the crime.
She disclosed that a total of 10 letter-headed papers belonging to different companies were also recovered from the suspects.
The DG said that the agency had placed the hotel where the victims were harboured on red alert as money was paid on behalf of the victims.
The DG called on the media to assist the agency by championing the awareness campaign against human trafficking to reduce the menace.
She said the agency had collaborated with many organisations and governments to launch a fresh angle to the fight against 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 that 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 said.
Ukaluo also said that 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.
Mr Daniel Atokolo, Director, Investigation and Monitoring Department, told journalists that an investigation is ongoing into the matter.
According to him, the investigation will involve a forensic examination of all the properties recovered from the suspects.