A Benin High Court, presided over by Justice Alero Edodo-Eruaga, on Friday sentenced a 43-year old, Henry Omoike, to 18 years imprisonment for human trafficking.
The convict was arraigned by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), on charge No. B/5C/2016, on a five- count charge bordering on the transportation of a person from Nigeria for prostitution abroad.
NAPTIP’s prosecutor, Mr Aigbeze Uhimwen, told the court that the offences also included facilitating activities for trafficking in persons, exporting a person from Nigeria, organising foreign travels which promote prostitution and tampering with prosecution witnesses.
Uhimwen said the offences contravened the provisions of trafficking in (Persons) (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015.
He told the court that the accused recruited a 17- year old school dropout from Uwelu Secondary School in Benin and transported her to Mali, where she was immediately introduced into prostitution in a Bar.
According to the prosecutor, the victim, in her testimony, said she was made to prostitute at night while working as a salesgirl in a boutique during the day.
Uhimwen further told the court that the accused collected all the victims’ earnings, as repayment for 300,000 CFA, being the cost of her transportation from Nigeria to Mali.
Delivering judgment, Edodo-Eruaga, held that the convict did not deserve mercy.
“As a father, you kept your own children protected but gladly exploited another man’s child by exposing her to prostitution in Mali.
“The scourge of human trafficking in the society has increased and we need to deal with it decisively,” Edodo-Eruaga ruled.
The Judge, however, said that the convict would spend five years in prison, as the sentence was to run concurrently, without an option of fine.
Reacting to the conviction, the Director-General of NAPTIP, Julie Okah-Donli, said the era of human trafficking as a business was over.
She advised traffickers to engage in legitimate means of livelihood and avoid exploiting the future of Nigerian children.
“No trafficker would be spared as the agency is ever determined to bring them to book,’’ she said.
The Director-General added that the Agency had zero tolerance for human trafficking. (NAN)