By Joy Odigie, Benin.
A human trafficker paid N5 million as judgment fine and compensation to the victim on Tuesday in Benin.
“I feel happy and okay.
“I was 16 years old and in Senior Secondary School Class 2 when I was trafficked to Libya. I was in Lagos then.
“The trafficker took us to Agbor in Delta and from there to Lagos before we were taken to Libya.
“We were forced into prostitution and were sexually exploited in the more than two years that I stayed in Libya. I was deflowered through rape and I did series of abortions in Libya.
“I was rescued and returned to Nigeria in 2018 by the International Organisation for Migration.
“I was traumatised and I wanted justice so I reported the trafficker to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).
“I commend NAPTIP for helping me to fight this case,’’ the survivor said on condition of anonymity.
She said that she would use the N5 million to further her education in Nursing and to set up a business.
A Federal High Court sitting in Asaba convicted and sentenced the trafficker to seven years’ imprisonment in December 2022 or the payment of N5 million to the victim in the alternative.
The Benin Zonal Commander of NAPTIP, Mr Nduka Nwanwenne, told newsmen in Benin on Tuesday that the agency filed the suit against the trafficker in 2019.
Nwanwenne said that it was a landmark achievement, as it was the first time that a survivor of human trafficking was paid N5 million as costs.
He commended the doggedness and zeal of the survivor, in spite of her traumatic experience.
“She reported the trafficker to NAPTIP by herself. NAPTIP filed the suit and prosecuted it diligently.
“The trafficker has paid the money and it is the first time the court has awarded this type of compensation to a survivor.
“The fine usually goes to the government but this time around, it is going to the survivor. It is a landmark achievement,’’ he stressed.
Nwanwenne also said that the Director-General of NAPTIP, Dr Fatima Waziri-Azi, had approved that the survivor be made a NAPTIP ambassador.
He added that NAPTIP secured 80 convictions in 2022, the highest by the agency since its inception in 2004.