The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Benin zone, says it has secured a conviction, and five years jail sentence of one Mr. Godstime Ohwonseye, a human trafficker.
Mr. Nduka Nwanwenne, Zonal Commander, NAPTIP Benin Zonal Command, disclosed this on Thursday in Benin, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Nwanwenne, also said Ohwonseye’s accomplice, one Mrs Vero Irowa, was also convicted.
He, however, said that Irowa who was the first convict, could not be sentenced as she had jumped bail, and could not be sentenced in absentia.
He explained that Ohwonseye was sentenced for unlawful obstruction of authorised officers of the agency in the exercise of power of arrest.
He said the offence contravened Section 32(1) of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015.
“The sentence was secured on Wednesday,” Nwanwenne said.
According to him, the agency instituted the case in December 2016 before the Justice Alero Edodo -Eruaga, now retired.
“However, with the retirement of Edodo-Eruaga, the matter commenced de novo before Justice Geraldine Imadegbelo of High Court, Criminal Division II, Benin on March 13, 2017.”
The zonal commander disclosed that the convicts, however, pleaded not guilty to the three-count charge.
He explained that count one and two of the charge bothered on procurement for prostitution and organising foreign travels which promoted prostitution.
The action, he said, contravened Section 15(a) &16 of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act, 2003 as amended.
“Count three however bothers on unlawful obstruction of authorised officers of the agency in the exercise of power of arrest, contrary to Section 32(1) of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015.
He explained that the first convict, (Irowa), now at large, had sometimes in 2007, procured an underage victim, and handed her over to her daughters for prostitution in Italy.
“Irowa had deceived the victim that her daughters will assist her in furthering her education in Italy.
“The victim was made to pay the sum of 700,000 Euros equivalent of N80m as at 2007.
“Fortunately, the victim was rescued by the Netherlands Government and has been in their care and protection.”
Nwanwenne however said that the second convict and other persons, currently at large, prevented the arrest of the Irowa and her late husband by NAPTIP operatives.
He said that during the trials, the prosecution called four witnesses and tendered 11 exhibits.
“The convicts testified for themselves and called no witness.
“The matter was adjourned for adoption of written addresses when the first convict jumped bail and bench warrant was issued against her.
“The court ordered continuation of trial in absentia, and in the judgment, the Irowa was found guilty on counts one and two, while Ohwonseye was found guilty on count three.
“However, the trial court reserved the sentencing of Irowa and ordered her arrest at sight, while Ohwonseye was sentenced to five years imprisonment without option of fine.