Afeez Hanafi 

Two members of a human trafficking syndicate based in Kano State have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the trafficking of women from Nigeria to Niger Republic and Libya.

The suspects–a commercial driver,  Abudulahi Umaru, and one Abubakar Suleiman, who confessed to have been paid N10,000 on each of the 100 women he trafficked to their ringleader, one Almusuru based in Niger.

They were recently tracked down by operatives of the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team who rescued a victim, Nofisat Mustapha.

City Round learnt that the traffickers recruited the women from different parts of Nigeria and send them to their counterparts in Niger Republic who later trafficked the victims to Libya for prostitution.

It was gathered that the detectives in February 2020 got intelligence about the activities of the syndicate and swung into action.

Umaru, who shuttles between Abuja and Kano, was said to have been intercepted while he was conveying Mustapha to Kano.

The native of Kadawa area of Kano State, who admitted to engaging in the crime, stated that he charged the syndicate more than double of the normal fare from Kano to Abuja.

He said, “I ply the Abuja-Kano route. I help them (the syndicate) convey their victims from Abuja to Kano State and hand them over to the agent (Suleiman) in Kano, who will facilitate their travelling to Niger Republic. I learnt they are being taken to Libya from Niger. All I care about is the money I am being paid.

“The trip from Abuja is N3,000 but I charge N7, 000 for those who are being trafficked and make N4,000 profit. They are usually women but I can’t remember the number of people I have taken to Kano.”

Suleiman told our correspondent that he was introduced into the crime sometime last year by a Nigerien identified only as Almusuru.

He said his role was to put the victims in commercial vehicles that would convey them to Niger from Kano.

He stated, “Almusuru and I were working together at Matara Motor Park, Daura Road, Kano. After Almusuru returned to Niger Republic, he called me and said that some people were coming to meet him in Niger and that when they got to Kano, I should put them in a vehicle that would bring them to Niger republic.

“I have sent over 100 women to Almusru and I was paid N10,000 for each of them. Almusuru is the one who communicates with all the agents across Nigeria. My job is just to send them to Niger Republic and Almusuru will pay me.  I don’t even know if they get to Libya or not. I knew it is a crime but I did it because I needed money.”

Mustapha, a mother of two, said things became tough for her three years ago when her husband abandoned her while she was in labour and had to undergo a caesarian section.

She explained that some months after the surgery, she started working as a labourer at building construction sites to feed herself and her children.

The woman said, “I am a secondary school dropout. My husband left me three years ago when I was about having my second child. He heard that I was going to have the child through surgery and he had no money. He abandoned me in the hospital and ran away.

“My mother paid the bills and I was discharged but I had no job and was forced to work at building sites in Ogun State. I worked to the point when I started feeling pains from the surgery and I stopped. I then started selling noodles.”

The 28-year-old woman stated that a neighbour approached her in February and convinced her to travel to Libya for a greener pasture.

She said, “The woman said she didn’t like the way I was suffering and she wanted me to stop selling noodles and travel to Libya. She assured me that I would get a good job and earn good money. She said she would send me to Kano State and the person in Kano would send me to Libya.

“I was supposed to work for one year in Libya and the person who sponsored the trip would take all my salary for the period. Afterwards, I would start earning my own income.

“I boarded a bus from Agege, Lagos, and when I got to Kano, I was arrested by the police who were already waiting for me.  I didn’t know that the plan was to sell me off in Libya. I was only trying to look for money to take care of my children. I am not a prostitute and have not engaged in prostitution before.”

Copyright PUNCH.