‘How I was tricked into prostitution in Libya’


A 19 -year – old girl Bisirat Lamidi who was rescued from a brothel in Tripoli Libya is undergoing counselling to relieve her of the trauma she experienced in the hands of her traffickers. Basirat, a Senior Secondary 2 student was lured to Libya by a cartel in Abeokuta with a promise that she will gain employment in the United States of America but her sweet dreams of a blissful life in US was cut short as her traffickers moved her hundreds of kilometers by road through the desert to Libya to work as a prostitute. Narrating how she was trafficked, Basirat said “ One of my parents’ former tenant in Oyo state, Amoke Yemi called me and said her brother is in America and asked if I want to come to America. I said I don’t mind.

She told me that she can arrange my travelling papers. I was excited and informed my parents. My parents spoke with her on the phone and she assured them that she can hasten my travelling to America. She told my parents that she has a friend who can handle all my travelling documents and that was how she linked me up with Alhaji Muritala Sanni. Alhaji Muritala Sanni told me to come to National Theatre Iganmu with N500,000 . I did as they said and I came to Lagos. I met a lady called Hafsat who wanted to travel. I also met Alhaji’s wife Alhaja Lateefat, her mother, Mrs Ebunoluwa Bankole and Amoke Yemi at the National Theatre Iganmu.

I ended up paying them N520,000 my parents gave me . That was in December 18th 2015. They said they will assist me to travel by air to America but it was all a lie. Alhaji Muritala Sanni told me that we had to travel that same day. That was how I and the other lady Hafsat were moved into a bus from Lagos to Kano. I asked if we are not travelling by air but Alhaji Sanni said we will travel by road before he will put us in a plane. So that was how we travelled by night bus to Kano. As soon as we arrived in Kano, they handed me and Hafsat to an agent to take us to Niger. They call the agent a burger and what he does is to push us to the next travelling point. We started travelling in a hilux van through the desert.

We travelled for about 11 days and we got to Agadeshe. There were alot of other girls in the van and as the journey became difficult, you will see girls falling off the van into the sand dunes and the driver will come out of the van and shout ‘Allahu Akbau’. They will not assist the girls that fell by the way side but will continue moving. The driver will say the girls have died and sand has covered their bodies. I was shocked and horrified and pleaded with them to allow me go back to Nigeria but they refused. I was given garri, groundnut, five litres of water, a head warmer and coat. The Nigerien soldiers who met us in the desert beat us with horse whip and collected our provision and money.

They raped some girls in front of us. These are girls who do not have money to settle them but they did not rape me. When we finally got to Libya,I saw more than 100 girls in a room. The house belongs to Alhaji and his wife. He told me I have to become a prostitute . I refused and decided not to eat . After much appeal to Alhaji Muritala and his wife, they assured me that I can leave but should pay N2million before I can go free. I found a way to reach my parents. I told them to rescue me from the cartel and my parents contacted Barrister Ojay Akinwale of the Alliance of Rights Defenders to come to my rescue. Alhaja Lateefat has a brother in Tripoli called AZ who is in charge of the girls.

His job is to prepare the girls for prostitution. AZ tried to persuade me to accept my fate and work for my release but I refused. He told me that they usually give soft tissues like facial wipes to girls to insert in their vigina so they don’t feel pains or contract diseases but I learnt from the other girls that the tissue can get stuck inside a woman’s body and she can die. They said many young virgin girls had died after they used the tissue and it got stuck in thier stomach. All the stories I heard made me to appeal to my parents the more to rescue me. Escaping from the brothel is not easy because the OPC men working as security for the cartel are on ground monitoring us.

I don’t know what the Human Rights lawyer told them and Alhaja ordered that Hafsat and I should return to Nigeria. Hafsat was my guardian and she made sure nobody molested me. We were treated like slaves and fed with flour and oil only in the evenings. The girls are made to sleep with 5 to 10 men in a day at 10 Dina (N1000) per round and 50 Dina (N5000) for all night sex . They have quack nurses that abort pregnancies for the girls. Alhaja had a roll of shops which serves as Boutique, hairdressing Salon,and a tailoring ship infront of the brothel disguising the brothel from preying eyes. However, due to the pressure from Nigeria, Alhaja paid for our flight from Libya to Ghana and we travelled by road to Nigeria.

When we got to Seme border, we appealed to the driver to allow us to alight as we were instructed by the lawyer but the driver refused. Unknown to us, Alhaja had marked us for death but Prince Tunji Oshokoya was already on ground at Seme border with police men and they forced the bus to stop because the policemen threatened to shot the driver. That was how we were rescued. I can describe my experience as horrific. I will never be tempted to travel out of the country. I feel sorry for the other girls still in custody of the trafficking ring in Libya.

Government should come to their rescue and bring them back to Nigeria. The government should also arrest all those behind trafficking girls out of the country.” One of the trafficked girls (names withheld) a mother of one who spoke with Saturday Mirror from Libya said “I was trafficked along side my two friends in 2014. We did not pay money to Alhaja Lateefat and her husband. It was Mrs Ebunoluwa Bankole that talked us into travelling abroad. She said her daughter and her son in-law will give us better jobs in America. I was an hairdresser in Abeokuta but we landed in Libya by road through the desert. We have been working as prostitutes since we got to Libya.

Anytime we plead to go back to Nigeria, Alhaja Lateefat and her husband would tell us to inform our families to pay them N2 million or we should work to pay him back for the expenses he incurred while bringing us to Libya. We can’t escape because the cartel employed men from Nigeria to work for them as security men. They are called OPC men and they watch us like hawk every second. I appealed to my parents to raise the money (N2million) but they don’t have such amount because they are poor. Moreover, I did not inform my parents about travelling abroad. I have seen hell and want to return to Nigeria . We are more that 100 girls the cartel is camping.

Government should come to our rescue. Some girls have died , while others ran away.” It can be recalled that the NAPTIP Officials arrested Mrs Ebunoluwa Bankole the mother of (Alhaja Lateefat Sanni, the woman who is said to be behind the trafficking ring in Nigeria and Libya ) over her alleged role in trafficking over 100 girls and ladies from Ogun State to Libya for prostitution. Alhaja Lateefat’s husband identified as Alhaji Muritala Sanni is allegedly a member of the syndicate . Barrister Akinwale urged the government and NAPTIP to take urgent measures to repatriate the girls and arrest the members of the cartel.

He said “ From the information we gathered, Alhaja Lateefat is back in Libya after she was assisted to escape arrest in Nigeria . We learnt that she has been bragging that she will use her connection to get her mother released from NAPTIP custody. Government should provide the finance and equipment for NAPTIP to do its work in Nigeria and abroad and it’s sad that the Nigeria Embassy in Libya has failed in its responsibility to Nigerians in Libya. NAPTIP should have police team backing them for their operations or the NAPTIP Officials should be empowered to carry arms.

Government should take human trafficking seriously and work with the relevant international agencies to repatriate these girls and also arrest the members of the cartel. From our Investigation, these couple have been running the cartel for the past twenty years and they have never been arrested until we stepped in and exposed them. We took thier photographs to NAPTIP and they succeeded in arrest Mrs Bankole but her daughter escaped arrest when operatives went to her home in Abeokuta to arrest her.

Unknown to the operatives, Alhaja Lateefat has the community members in her pay roll so when she was been taken into the police van, her sister started shouting thieves, thieves and the community members came out and attacked NAPTIP Officials and security men with broken bottles and other weapon which led to Alhaja Lateefat escape. NAPTIP succeeded in arresting some of the attackers but we learnt a majority of the suspect escaped while they were being transported to Lagos and others have been granted bail , a move we frown at . We also want NAPTIP to prosecute Mrs Bankole in Lagos where the crime was committed as we learnt that they are moving her to Ogun State to be arraigned there.

We want her and her husband to be declared wanted and Interpol should repatriate her and her husband to face the law” The parents of other ladies trafficked to Libya by the syndicate are appealing to the federal government to rescue thier daughters and prosecute members of the gang. Adisa Diyaolu 59 is the step father of one of such ladies still in captivity in Libya. He said “ My step daughter Rufiat Oladeinde, 21 was trafficked to Libya by this syndicate. Rufiat was 18 years old when I married her mother.

Rufiat is a mother of a three months old baby boy and she is an hairdresser. She was living with me and her mother in Lagos but she relocated to Abeokuta in Ogun State to set up a shop with her friends. Sometimes last year,she told me and her mother that she and her friend want to travel to America. I asked her who was taking them and she introduced Mrs. Ebunoluwa Bankole to me. I went to Abeokuta to see Mrs Bankole and she assured me that my step daughter would be in good hands in her daughter Mrs Lateefat Sanni’s care.

However, I was shocked when few weeks later, my step daughter called me that she was going to America and I should send her younger sister to come and pack her property from Abeokuta that she was on her way to America. I was shocked but when she called me, she told me that she was in Libya. I shouted and asked her what she was doing in Libya. She told me that Libya is thier destination. I became worried when she started calling me with different phone numbers. I called one of the numbers and a man picked the phone. Rufiat later called me and I confronted her to tell me what was going on with her. She opened up and told me she was in trouble in Libya.

That she was trafficked for prostitution. I have been calling her to return to Nigeria but she told me that OPC security are monitoring them. I am appealing to government to help rescue Rufiat” Rufiat ‘s mother Deborah Diyaolu cried profusely as she narrated her daughter’s absence from home. “ Rufiat was decieved to go to Libya. They told her she was going to America to work as an hairdresser but they trafficked her and her friend to Libya . I did not give her money to travel. She told me that the people who took her away paid for her transportation.

She is in Libya looking for money to come back to Nigeria but she and other girls are being watched. She told me that if I can raise N2million for Alhaji Sanni that she will be set free. My daughter is in bondage and I need government to help her and other girls in her condition to come back to Nigeria “ When contacted over the trafficked girls, Mr. Famakin the Zonal Commander for the National Agency for the Prohibition in Trafficking in Persons NAPTIP South West said the agency is working with international partners to arrest and repatriate Alhaji and Alhaja Sanni to Nigeria.

The NAPTIP boss confirmed that Mrs Ebunoluwa Bankole, Alhaja Lateefat’s Sanni mother is in custody. He said “ Mrs Ebunoluwa Bankole is in our custody. She was arrested for human trafficking as a member of a syndicate with her daughter and son in-law. The syndicate traffick girls to Libya and efforts are being made to have the couple arrested. We are working with our international partners to get them back to Nigeria to face thier crime” Mr. Famakin confirmed also that NAPTIP operatives arrested Alhaja Lateefat in Abeokuta but she escaped.

He added that Mrs Bankole has since been charged to court and is on bail but nobody has come to take her bail. “Operatives went to Abeokuta to arrest Alhaja Lateefat . She was apprehended and was being taken into the vehicle but she started shouting thieves , thieves and people in the community , including her family members pounced on the operatives and assaulted them with broken bottles.

They assisted her to escape. We arrested five of the people and charged them to the federal high Court Abeokuta for assault and obstruction of duty. We arraigned Mrs Bankole at the federal high Court Abeokuta because investigations revealed that most of the offences were committed there. Nobody has come for her bail that is why she is still in our custody”.

Culled from: http://nationalmirroronline.net/new/how-i-was-tricked-into-prostitution-in-libya/


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