By Ruth Tene Natsa, Abuja
A Federal High Court sitting in Makurdi, the Benue State capital yesterday in two separate judgments delivered by Justice Hassan Dikko sentenced three persons to 2 years imprisonment each for human trafficking.
In a statement to Leadership signed by NAPTIP Head, Press and Public Relations Josiah Emerole,it stated that the human traffickers are Friday Okache (23yrs) from Benue State, Anucha Blessing (28yrs) from Abia State and Agatu Blessing (25yrs) from Benue State.
The statement revealed that the convicts were however, given options of fine with Friday and Blessing given N350, 000 each, while Agatu Blessing was given an option of N250, 000 only.
The statement revealed that the convicts had been arraigned in Court by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) in two separate suits after they were arrested for the trafficking of 4 girls and charged under Section 13 (2) of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act 2015 which prohibits all acts of trafficking in persons.
In the case of Friday Okache and Anucha Blessing, they were arraigned in court for the recruitment of 2 16 year old girls for sexual exploitation contrary to Section 13 (2) (b) of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration, Act, 2015
The statement further revealed that On the 17th June, 2017, Friday Okache was arrested by NAPTIP Operatives based on intelligence reports on the trafficking of the two girls to Davies Hotel, Lugbe, Abuja, for the purpose of inducing them to engage in prostitution.
“Upon arrest, he confessed to the crime and stated that he recruited the girls at the behest of Anucha Blessing”. On her arrest, Aucha Blessing admitted to have committed the offence.
The Accused persons were, arraigned on June 29,2017 on a case with charge number FHC/MKD/CR/68/17 in which they pleaded guilty to the charge.
On the case of Aguta Blessing (25years old) from Benue State, she was also charged for the recruitment of 2 17 year old girls for sexual exploitation contrary to Section 13 (2) (b) of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration, Act, 2015
The Accused was on June 22, 2017 arrested while in company of the victims on board a bus heading to Okene, Kogi State by operatives of NAPTIP in a sting operation.
Upon arrest, she claimed to have recruited the girls to work on her farm in Auchi, Edo State. However, she could not tell investigators where her farm was located. Upon further interrogations, she confessed to have recruited the girls to work as prostitutes in King’s Garden Hotel, Auchi, Edo State, where she also works as a prostitute.
When she was arraigned on the 29th June, 2017 in a Suit with charge number FHC/MKD/CR/69/17, she pleaded guilty to the charge.
Delivering judgment in the two cases today, Hon. Justice Hassan Dikko in separate judgments convicted and sentenced the Accused persons.
In her reaction, the Director-General of NAPTIP expressed satisfaction with the development. She commended the presiding Judge for the accelerated hearing given to the case. She however, urged all judicial officers across the country especially High Court Judges to always give accelerated hearing to human trafficking cases.