Mrs Grace Izekor, a Benin City based mother, cannot wait to receive her daughter in warm embrace, but that will only happen if her allegedly trafficked daughter is ever found. PATRICK OCHOGA writes on the pain of a mother in search of a missing daughter.
Osarienmen Izekor, was 18-years-old in 2016 when she completed her secondary school education in a public school in Benin City. Just like many of her peers, she had dreamt of furthering her education up to university level.
As a teenager, she was passionate about singing and for those who knew her, it was certain that she would eventually make a profession from singing, she was said to have led the school choir in her time in school and was very popular among her mates.
Shortly after she graduated from secondary school, Osarienmen met one Uyi who later became her lover. Their relationship grew over the months so much they became inseparable love birds. But unknown to Osarienmen, Uyi had another motive beyond dating her.
Uyi, who had an elder sister in Spain, was said to have approached Osarienmen’s mother, Mrs Grace Izekor, seeking her approval to take her daughter to Abuja for an audition.
Initially, she was excited about the offer and hoped that her daughter’s dream of making it big in the music industry was gradually becoming a reality.
She was said to have given her consent with a proviso that there must be a concrete agreement before she can give her total approval, she did not know that her daughter was being lured into the dangerous world of slavery and prostitution.
“Uyi approached me and offered to take my daughter for an audition in Abuja. I asked to meet the parents of Uyi to be sure that my daughter was in good hands. On meeting his mother and sister, they promised that if my daughter is good in singing, she can even be flown abroad where she will make money from her talent,” Osarienmen’s mother narrated in tears.
Commenting on the matter, the Edo State Police command through its spokesman, Chidi Nwabuzor, when contacted, told LEADERSHIP Weekend that the command has intensified efforts to apprehend all those involve in the trafficking of the girl, even as it called on parents to be weary of unsolicited offer of trips abroad.
Meanwhile, Osarienmen’s elder brother John Izekor, who was in the company of their mother, corroborated his mother’s account adding: “Uyi’s parent said they had an elder brother in Spain and pleaded with my mother to accept the proposal with a promise that both of them will be flown abroad.
“Once in a while, my mother used would go to the house to inquire about the wellbeing of her daughter since she couldn’t directly contact Uyi. But each time she called to inquire about my sister, all she was told was that they are still on the journey. They have been tossing her around with all kinds of excuse for the last two years.”
What further heightened fear and suspicion in the hearts of members of Osarienmen’s family was that, when the mother visited the alleged trafficker’s family again recently, to demand for the where about of Osarienmen, she was told that the woman, who allegedly aided the trafficking of the girl had moved out of her house.
“But luckily for my mother, she ran into Uyi’s mother at Textile Mill Road and demanded to know where she had moved to. At that point, it was clear that something wrong must have happened to my sister. The confrontation led to an argument which led to a fight.
“As a result of the fight, police were invited to arrest my mother. It was at that moment that I got a call that my mother was at the police station. After she made her statement, I was allowed access to her before then she narrated everything to me.
“I had to call someone I knew before I was allowed to speak to the DPO. The DPO said it is a case of woman trafficking and advised that we go to the appropriate quarter. That the same family are equally claiming that they have not heard from their son as well.
“What I see is that they are trying to exonerate themselves from the matter. I’m confuse and I don’t know what to do. We want the accused family to be invited by the authorities. I have never met the family before, what I heard was that they lived on Siluko Road.’’
The senior special assistant to Governor Godwin Obaseki on Anti-Human Trafficking and Illegal Migration, Comrade Solomon Okoduwa, confirmed the incident and said a committee is currently investigating the matter with a bid to apprehend all those who must have played a role in the trafficking of Osarienmen.
According to Okoduwa: “The case has been reported to my office. They wrote a petition to us even as the matter was also being reported at Ogida Police Station. We are looking at transferring the matter to the appropriate committee so that we can get the full details and find out if the missing girl is still alive.
“We are concern and trying to find the people who trafficked her out of Nigeria. The governor of Edo State frowns at this modern day slavery and inhuman treatment of Edo citizens in diaspora. So we are critically looking at the matter to find out what can be done to ensure her safe return.
“The trafficker, from our findings, has since relocated from Nigeria. We are also looking at how we can get her to answers some questions regarding the case.’’
Okoduwa added that the committee in a bid to discourage illegal migration has embarked on enlightenment campaigns in schools, Churches and homes, to create awareness of the dangers of human trafficking.