A Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos State, has sentenced a housewife, Nonye Ukatu, to 13 years’ imprisonment for trafficking two girls under 12 years old and using them for forced labour.
Punch correspondent learnt that Ukatu was jailed on Friday in a judgment delivered by the presiding judge, Justice Kudy Jose.
It was gathered that the woman was arrested by operatives of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons in 2015, following a tip-off from some neighbours who were concerned about the sufferings of the girls.
She was subsequently arraigned in court on December 21, 2015, on six counts of harbouring two girls and using them for forced labour, domestic work and treating them as slaves.
The NAPTIP, in a release on Sunday by its Head, Press and Public Relations, Josiah Emerole, said the offences were contrary to Sections 22a, 23 (1a) and 25 (a) of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015.
Emerole said the trial commenced in July 2016, while judgment was delivered on Friday at the court.
He said, “In the case with charge number, 1D/2227C/2015, Ukatu, who earlier came out without bail, was re-arrested and slammed with six counts of harbouring two girls that are under 12 years old and using them for forced labour, domestic work and treating them as slaves.
“These are contrary to sections 22 (a), 23 (1a) and 25 (a) of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015. The charge is dated December 21, 2015.
“When the defendant was arraigned in early 2016, she pleaded not guilty to all the counts. Trial however commenced on July 4, 2016. Delivering his judgment last week, Justice Jose convicted Ukatu on all the charges and sentenced her to 13 years’ imprisonment. On counts 1 and 2, she was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment; counts 3 and 4, one year’s imprisonment; and counts 5 and 6, seven years’ imprisonment. The sentences are to run concurrently.
“The Director-General of NAPTIP, Julie Okah-Donli, called for more accelerated handling of human trafficking cases by courts to ensure that victims of human trafficking get justice promptly against the traffickers and their accompli