A Mcombined team of operatives of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and the Department of State Services, Imo State Command, has rescued a middle-aged Burundian woman and her three children suspected to be victims of human trafficking.
The spokesperson for NAPTIP, Adekoye Vincent, in a statement on Wednesday, said the woman, Siniremera Bizimana, and her three children, Murwaneza Maecy, Akimana Bethel and Umwiza Collins, were freed in the early hours of Wednesday after a sting operation on their holding mud house in Umunoha, Mbaitoli Local Government Area of Imo State.
Investigations revealed that the victims were rescued after a complaint from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees was lodged at the NAPTIP’s headquarters and further directive from the Director-General of the agency, Dr Fatima Waziri-Azi.
NAPTIP stated that the victims, who had refugee status in Kenya, were trafficked to Lagos by a yet-to-be-identified human trafficker in September 2021, after which they were moved to Umunoha, Imo State, where they were restricted and forced into daily menial labour to feed.
Their travel documents and other belongings were also confiscated.
The Commander of NAPTIP, Imo State, Earnest Ogbu, stated that accounts from the victims indicated that the trafficker deceived them into coming to Nigeria and a remote village in Imo.
In a related development, NAPTIP, Benue State Zonal Command, on Wednesday, reunited 32 victims of human trafficking with their families.
The victims were intercepted by the police on January 5 while being trafficked to Osun State.
The Zonal Commander, Mrs Gloria Bai, told journalists that most of the 32 victims were underage children.
She said they were reunited with their families after they were taken home in two buses accompanied by NAPTIP officials and staff of Ukum Local Government Area.
Bai said the suspect, Angbiandoo Akaasema, and the 32 children, were all from the Ukum LGA of the state and were en route to Osun State when they were intercepted.
The suspect said her husband owned a non-governmental organisation, and wanted to help the children to get access to education because of the crisis in their area.
“So, when they landed in Osun, they distributed them to people in their church to become house help and shop attendants and in return, the people send them to schools.
“We have yet to find out whether the organisation is genuine and if the children were being exploited, but the suspect is still in our custody for further investigation,” she added.
The NAPTIP commander, who noted that some of the children were taken at the age of 10 and others below 18 years, pointed out that it was against the law to engage any child below the age of 18 as a house help.
She said, “Three of the children are from the same parents and from what we heard, they were ready to give out all their children even when they did not know where they were headed.”
Bai urged members of the public to give the agency information that would enable it to detect human traffickers.
She also called on local government chairmen and traditional rulers to assist the agency in sensitising parents and guardians to the evil of human trafficking.