FOR those, who doubted the efficacy of the curse on human traffickers by the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare 11, the calls on trafficked girls to come and take their pubic hairs and pants from shrines are indeed a direct response to the doubts.
AgendaHouse learnt that native doctors, who hitherto held the power of life and death over the girls, are now terrified to the extent of reaching out to them through emissaries.
The native doctors in Edo State and other states, whose charms are known to have sustained the trafficking business, have reportedly been uncomfortable since the Benin Monarch made the veru unusual public pronouncement.
For many years, human traffickers, mostly from the Benin – Delta axis, engaged in large-scale trafficking of girls, as young as 12, to Europe where they are forced to engage in prostitution to pay back their sponsors who are fondly called ‘madams.’ It is sex slavery on an industrial scale.
Human trafficking has damaged Nigeria’s image abroad. Most of the girls are Edo indigenes.
In response to calls for breaking the psychological hold of these ‘madams’ over these trafficked girls, the Benin Monarch recently and publicly placed a curse on all of those facilitating this inhuman trade. The Oba had dug out ‘juju’ that had not been exposed to sunlight for 800 years to release the curse.
However, it was learnt that frightened native doctors had called the parents of some of the girls to come for the items they used in administering oaths, as most of them were no longer comfortable keeping them in their shrine. The decision to call the victims’ parents instead of the traffickers, who hitherto owned the properties before the Oba’s pronouncement, was to ensure that some stubborn traffickers do not hold on to them.
Sources told AgendaHouse in Benin City that the traffickers are devastated by the fact that the development has made it impossible for them to recoup their investment in the trade. Some of the traffickers have begun to comply with the order in Italy, Germany, France and Russia and India. Others have however maintained that since they were not indigenes of the state, their trafficked victims would still pay the money used in taking them outside the shores of Nigeria. For instance, an Igbo woman was said to have granted freedom to her victim in India, while some are hell-bent on being paid in defiance of the royal curse.
Comrade Solomon Okonduwa, Special Assistant to Edo state governor on Anti-Human Trafficking, said his office is being inundated with calls from Europe and Asia over the effects of the curse by Oba of Benin.
Okonduwa said: “The impact of the Oba’s pronouncement has gone a long way to free our girls from the hands of these Madams in Italy and native doctors who are in possession of the girls’ personal belongings like pubic hairs, and pants among others.”
“Some of the native doctors are calling their parents in Nigeria to come and take their properties out of the shrine in compliance with the directive of the Oba of Benin. Some of the girls in Europe are rejoicing while some are crying that their traffickers have not yielded to the voice of the Oba.”
Juju priests on the run
Also speaking, the Benin Zonal Commander of National Agency for Prohibition and Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, Mr. Nduka Nwanwenne noted that: “Most of the juju priests are on the run. There was one we wanted to arrest three days ago but he ran away. There was a lady that was summoned to appear before the juju priest we also tried to track the man but he got wind of it and took off.”
“The victims have also refused to make further payment to their traffickers. It has been a positive development. We have seen situations where most of these victims are now free to talk which will help us during prosecution in the court. And the Oba’s pronouncement is going beyond Edo State. I visited Agbor where I met with a traditional ruler and I know what he said. The effect is so much. There has been positive development so far and it has made our jobs easier”
A Benin lady based in Spain, sent word anonymously, that some girls who were in transit to Europe have been abandoned in Libya. “The Oba’s curse is affecting the businesses of the Madams and they are all scared now.” She said.
A few days after Saturday Vanguard published the story of the Oba’s pronouncement, some of the trafficked girls posted two videos on social media, vowing not to pay their traffickers. In one of the videos, an Austrian-based girl, who identified herself as Joy, vowed not to pay further money to her Madam. She narrated how she came to Europe through Libya two years ago, adding that she was told to pay 30,000 Euro by her Madam to be free.
She said: ‘’I don’t have a good job because I have no document. And my Madam expects me to get the money through prostitution and I can no longer cope. I was sleeping in a train station before I was able to get a small house where I live now. I have been paying that money back to my Madam since then. But I thank God when I heard about the Oba’s curse because I need to plan my future and stop being a slave to a woman. I called my Madam and I told her about Oba’s curse, saying that I was not ready to pay any more. She started shouting and asking me whether it was Oba that brought me to Europe. I told her it does not matter that after all, I took the oath in Benin. The native doctor is still with my pubic hair, pant and other things we used for the oath-taking. We were three girls my Madam brought here. I am in Austria, one is in Italy and another one in France.”