A mother of one-month-old baby is among the suspected
human traffickers undergoing interrogation at the Ikoyi office of the
National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).
Helen Oni, 33, was arrested for trafficking a 15-year-old girl
identified as Ronda. She was said to have lured the girl to Lagos and
promised her a fantastic job.
The naÔve girl was said to have left Benin without telling her parents.
When she, however, discovered that there was no fantastic job but
prostitution waiting for her, she cried out.
Ronda claimed she later got to know that Oni sold her to another
prostitute identified as Rita, for N20,000.
She was to serve her for as long as she wanted by sleeping with
different men that came to the brothel they were holed in. All the money
made by her went into the purse of Rita, who was determined to recoup
the N20,000 she paid for her even if it meant spilling the girlís blood.
Oni had forgotten all about the transaction until last month. She was
reminded of her crime when she saw Ronda and operatives of NAPTIP.
The operatives brought her all the way from Benin in spite of her
advanced pregnancy because of the seriousness of the alleged crime.
The operatives had barely began interviewing her when she started having
labour pains. Unperturbed, NAPTIP officials took her to the hospital. By
the time she gave birth to a baby boy, the agency had already spent over
The suspect, however, said she knew nothing about Ronda leaving Benin
for Lagos to become a prostitute. According to her, she only assisted
one Eyosu and Ekaete to bring Ronda to Lagos. She insisted that it was
Eyosu and Ekaete that begged her to bring the teenager to Lagos. She
denied knowing that Rita was a prostitute living in a brothel.
Oniís story soon changed when she eventually sat face to face with
Ronda, who accused her of selling her to Rita. The suspect, who was not
ready to own up to her crime, accused Rita of trying to blackmail her.
The trafficking network was busted when NAPTIP officials, who were
acting on a tip-off, stormed a Hotel at Odogunyan area of Ikorodu and
rescued several under-aged female prostitutesí madams who make them
sleep with men. Though some of the women who habour the girls escaped,
including Rita, others were nabbed.
Ronda said: "Iíve attempted to run away before, but two area boys who
knew Rita saw me and dragged me back to her."
She said that she first got wind of traveling to Lagos from her friend,
Ekaete, explaining that she was to leave for Lagos with Ekaete and Oni,
but Ekaete had to go back because the transport fare was not enough.
She said: "I stayed three days with Helen before she brought me to
Lagos. She called Rita when we arrived. Rita took me to the brothel to
work as a prostitute."
According to her, when she attempted to escape, Rita called Oni on phone
and threatened to deal with her.
"Rita told Helen that if I ran away, she would come to Benin to collect
her N20,000. Rita took me to a herbalist. She gave my picture to the
man. They said if I ran away, my leg and hand would paralyse," she
Crying profusely, Oni called Ronda a liar. She swore that if any of the
stories being narrated by Ronda was true, God should let her
one-month-old baby die.
In her defence, she said Ronda knew she was coming to Lagos for
prostitution. She revealed that she collected N1,000 from Rita, being
money for the fare she paid to bring Ronda to Lagos. She said: "Rita was
even supposed to pay N2,000 to me but she said she didnít have enough
money. Rita and I were prostitutes before I got pregnant and left for
Benin. I know that all the lies said by Ronda was orchestrated by Rita
and another prostitute called Tina. They didnít like me. The quarrel
started when they attempted to snatch the father of this baby and
She added that Ekaete and Eyosu came to meet her to bring Ronda to Lagos
because they knew she went to Lagos often. "I go there to buy fairly
used clothes. I bring them down to Benin to sell," Ronda said, revealing
that she was taken to a place by Rita, where injection was administered
to her before she commenced work in the brothel. She was told the
injection was to fight infections.
Asked if she knew what HIV/AIDS mean, she said: "Dem say HIV dey kill."
Investigators have notified Rondaís father of her whereabouts. The happy
and relieved father was said to have gone to 10 police stations in Benin
to declare his daughter missing.