In order to get its message into the consciousness of the society, a non-governmental organisation recently took their crusade against illegal migration and human trafficking to churches and schools, writes Adibe Emenyonu

Blessing Idogbo is one of the illegal migrants who recently returned back to Edo State. The indigene of Iguobazuwa, Ovia South West local government area was repatriated from Russia where she worked as a prostitute in the cities of Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kaizan.

According to the 25-year-old returnee, she had left the shores of Nigeria at the age of 19 in 2012 to Russia, where she stayed until her return on April 21, 2018. As a body hawker in the three aforementioned cities, she narrated how she slept with at least 30 men everyday in order to meet up with the payment of 64,000 dollars to her madam who sponsored her to Russia.

She said, “It is not a life I had wished for nor one that I will wish anyone. I however opted for this journey owing to the hardship in my family. My father, a pensioner, was bedridden following an accident he had in 2011. Meanwhile, my mother was not doing anything then. Being the fourth child in the family of five and already in Senior Secondary School Two (SSS2), I was recruited through my church pastor who told me of a sister overseas that helped girls who are in difficulty.

“It was not as if I was not told of what I will be doing while there, but I opted for it because of what my parents were passing through. Upon arrival in Russia in 2012, I worked hard and finished paying my madam 60,000 dollars and 2,000 dollars each to her agent as well as the native doctor who administered the oath before I left. All amounted to 64,000.

“Things however took a downward turn after I finished the payment in 2015. I could hardly make money to even pay for my rent and to take care of myself. It was so bad that I started relying on money from the people who were the reason I had left the country. The most painful aspect of it is that I lost my dad in the midst of all this.”

Like her, she said a lot of Nigerians girls, who are having things rough over there in Russia wants to come back home, but cannot because they do not have the money for ticket. She said her return home was made possible through a Nigerian owned Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that have helped a lot of Nigerians to secure their return back to Nigeria in the past.

She said, “These girls are finding it a lot difficult there and our government must help them return home. There is need for our government to assist this people to come back home. Prostitution is no longer profitable there and we constantly live in danger of being killed all the time by our clients. I was kidnapped on three occasions while working as a prostitute in Russia and raped for several days by my abductors before releasing me. This is just what they do when they don’t want to pay. There are times when your client will will either force you to sleep with him without condom or beat the hell out of you to sleep with you through the anal canal.”

When asked how they go about without the necessary papers, she narrated that there were times they got arrested by the Russian Police but always have a means of securing their freedom, adding, “When they arrest us, the police usually asked for money or on the alternative, demand to sleep with you to secure your freedom.”

Recently, an alarm was raised during an advocacy programme of a particular secondary school in Ikpoba -Okha Local Government Area of the state by the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Godwin Obaseki, Mr. Solomon Okoduwa. According to him, the school has become a haven for recruitment of young boys and girls for the purpose of illegal migration.

Okoduwa said the fact was disclosed to him by some teachers in the school, who narrated how the institution had become the harvesting ground for traffickers. Lamenting the situation, he said the government will not fold its arm to allow the evil to continue to thrive in the state.

While noting that there would be increased awareness against this vice he said the state Task Force Against Human Trafficking will be on the trail of the suspected human traffickers. He thereafter admonished the students to be wary of the antics of the traffickers who are bent on deceiving them into illegal journey.

He therefore admonished the students to henceforth, report anyone who tells them to travel to Europe. “They are simply taking you through Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea and you may eventually end up in Libya. The number of students that have been trafficked from your school in this short period is overwhelming. The truth is that many of them might have been imprisoned there or facing one challenge or the other”, Okoduwa averred.

Although the veracity of this particular report is still in doubt, it however signifies the fact that most recruitments for human trafficking, illegal migration, work slavery and prostitution takes place in churches and schools. This has undeniably been the major reason why potential victims of human trafficking find it difficult to resist the temptation when they are lured.

Against the above narratives, a group decided to take the campaign against human trafficking and illegal migration to churches and schools. The NGO, Re-educating Africans on the Risk and Dangers in Unplanned Journey Abroad (RARDUJA), recently took its sensitisation message on the dangers inherent in unplanned journey abroad.

Addressing worshippers on the theme: “Say No To Unplanned Journey Abroad” at the Glorious Power of God Assembly in Benin City, the Coordinator of RARDUJA, Mr. Eddy Duru, said the dangers associated when embarking on unplanned journey to Europe countries are enormous and as such, should not be encouraged in the Church of Christ.

Duru, who also visited the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Turning Point Parish, Idunmowina, also in the state capital, said the church has the responsibility to enlighten their congregation on the dangers of risking their lives in the Mediterranean sea and Sahara desert all in the name of seeking for greener pastures abroad.

He said: “Our quest is to continue to re-educate our people on the risks and all the hazards that are associated with this traveling through the sea and the desert, especially unplanned, even through the air. Many who are there right now are frustrated.”

Duru said although there is a lot to achieve in Nigeria, what Nigerians need is the ability to look inward and find something meaningful to do, adding that while some Nigerians are leaving the country for the fear of Boko Haram in the recent past, other foreigners are trooping into the country for businesses just because they were able to see what others could not see in the country.

He said RARDUJA is not against anybody traveling abroad but should anyone wants to travel, he or she should follow due process to avoid the risk of loosing ones life in a bid to travel out of the country.

Also addressing students of Word of Truth Group of Schools and Unicoach Group of Schools in Benin on the same theme, RARDUJA coordinator, enumerated the dangers associated with embarking on unplanned journey to Europe country, saying such should not be encouraged in any schools either by the teachers or the proprietors.

Also speaking, the zonal commander, NAPTIP, Benin zone, Mr. Nduka Nwenwene said in Edo State, Ikpoba Okha LGA has the highest number of those who have embarked on such a dangerous trip. Adding that though the government has failed in their part to provide jobs for her citizens, it is still not enough reason for people to embark on such a journey. He went on to call on Nigerians to report any case of human trafficking to NAPTIP adding, “the battle can only be worn collectively”.