From: Godwin Tsa, Abuja
After nine years of legal battle, the Supreme Court has affirmed the conviction of a human trafficker, Martina Opera, who has been sentenced to 14 years imprisonment for same offence.
Her journey to prison began in 2008 when she was arrested by operatives of National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).
She was, accordingly, charged to court on a nine-count bordering procurement and movement from place to place of three girls; using and offering girls for prostitution in the country.
She was also charged for deceitful inducement of girls to go from Calabar to Sagamu and confinement and detention of girls for prostitution.
The said offences according to prosecution are contrary to sections 15(a) and section 19(a,b, and c) of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act 2003 (as amended in 2005).
Justice R. N. Ofili Ajumogobia of the Abeokuta division of a Federal High Court had on April 19, 2012, found her guilty of the charges and sentenced her to 14 years imprisonment with hard labour.
Not satisfied with the judgment, Opara approached the Court of Appeal, Ibadan Division which in 2014 in a unanimous decision dismissed the appeal for lacking merit.
Still not satisfied with the Appeal Court judgment, she went further to the Supreme Court.
In its unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Mary Odili, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and affirmed the decisions of the lower Courts.
Reacting to the Supreme Court judgment, Acting Director-General of NAPTIP, Mr. Abdulrazak Dangiri expressed delight that the matter has finally come to an end. He expressed the hope that the judgment would serve as a deterrent to human traffickers as the Agency was determined to follow all cases to a logical conclusion.
In a related development, a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), has sentenced a 48 year old man to 12 years imprisonment for sexually abusing two boys.
Justice M. M. Kolo jailed the convict, Shehu Abubakar after he pleaded guilty of the two count charges preferred against him by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).
The offences were rooted under the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act 2015.
The plea of the convict followed overwhelming evidence produced against him by the legal team of the Agency.
The sentence is to run concurrently.
Investigation revealed that the defendant who is a resident of Gwagwalada, Gwagwalada Local Government Council, was arrested by the operatives of NAPTIP following a tip-off by some concerned residents who suspected the unholy relationship between him and the two boys.
It was learnt that the convict harboured the two boys, age between 14 and 15 years old in his apartment with the pretence of providing accommodation for them and in the process had canal knowledge of them continuously through their anus.
This conviction brings to two the convictions secured by the Agency under the Violence Against Person Prohibition (VAPP) Act 2015.
Reacting to this conviction, Acting Director-General of NAPTIP, Mr. Abdulrazak Dangiri expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the case. He however, added that the Agency will not rest on its laurels in dealing with the issues of violence against persons in Abuja.