…traumatised parents beg govt for assistance
There was anguish in Uvwie and Okpe local government areas of Delta State yesterday after it was discovered that several schoolgirls have been trafficked to Cote d’Ivoire for prostitution. The girls were trafficked allegedly by a female member of a trafficking syndicate without the consent of their parents.
The parent of one of the victims, Peculiar (surname withheld), a 15-year-old Senior Secondary School (SSS) 1 student of Ugbomro Secondary School, Ugbomro, in Uvwie Local Government Area, said she had been psychologically traumatised since she was told if her daughter’s predicament. Peculiar, it was learnt, was among 25 schoolgirls who fell victims when the syndicate operated at Alaka and Orerokpe before disappearing into thin air.The syndicate allegedly sent words down to Peculiar’s parents not to declare her missing but continue to pray for a successful return before the girls crossed the border.
Peculiar’s father, Kingsley (surname withheld), said in Warri yesterday that trouble started in September 2020 when his daughter began to put up a strange behaviour and refused at times to return home to sleep. He said: “Suddenly my daughter started behaving funny. She ran out of our house at Ugbomro to Alaka to stay and when she was brought back, she went there again. I suspected it was not ordinary. I took her to the General Hospital at Ekpan but the doctor who attended to her said she was normal.
“We took her to a deliverance church. For two days, her behaviour returned to normal and we were happy. But suddenly she again ran out of the house to Alaka. The next thing was a call from her in Lagos and thereafter, Côte d’Ivoire.”
The victim’s father said the syndicate had been calling his wife’s mobile phone to demand N300,000 before they could send her back to Nigeria when the Federal Government opens the borders this December.
He said his effort to get his daughter back through the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and authorities of Uvwie Local Government Area had failed on several occasions. Kingsley said he was left with no other option than to report the matter at the police station, covering the Ugbomro community in Ebrumede. He said he was told at Ebrumede Police Station that some girls were trafficked to Cote d’Ivoire, and that a woman in Orerokpe was arrested because her cell phone was used to call a victim. Perculiar’s father appealed to relevant authorities in Delta State, Nigeria and beyond to assist in getting his daughter back.
The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Onome Onovwakpoyeya, confirmed that a woman was arrested in connection with the alleged trafficking of some girls in Uvwie and Orerokpe. The PPRO explained that some of the reported cases at the Ebrumede Police Station were transferred to Orerokpe Divisional Headquarters because of jurisdiction. She said: “We will soon transfer the case file to the Command Headquarters for discreet investigation.”
The state Commissioner for Women Affairs, Social and Community Development, Mrs. Flora Alatan, said she was not aware of the case. Alatan said it was when such a case was reported to her ministry that it would be referred to the agency in charge of child trafficking for necessary action. She said: “If we are relating directly or the parents can come to the ministry and make a report on the matter, the child trafficking agency will pick it up. It is only when complaints are made to us that we can take action. The affected families don’t need any protocol to lodge complaints.”