Finally, Italy Grabs Most-Wanted Nigerian Pimp
Joy Jeff, a 48-year-old Nigerian woman who was last Wednesday extradited to Italy happens to be one of the established Nigerian prostitution ring leaders. The fugitive was one of the few women on Italy’s most-wanted list since 2010 for charges of criminal conspiracy, enslavement, trafficking in people, exploitation of prostitution and other offenses. Ferdinand Ekechukwu reports
In recent decades, thousands of young women from Nigeria are being lured to Italy on false promises of a better future. Instead, they find themselves victims of criminal organisations, who force them mostly into selling their bodies to repay debts contracted for their journey, often amounting to tens of thousands of Euros. Roughly 11,000 Nigerian women arrived in Italy in 2016.
Upon arrival the women were psychologically abused and even subjected to “macabre voodoo rituals,” designed to keep them from contacting Italian authorities for help and making them fear harm to their families back home should they fail to repay their expenses or disobey their handlers. While some are forced into drug trafficking, the exploitation stretched outside Italy into Germany and Libya, according to reports.
The sex trade in Italy has become widespread and controlled by madams mostly through an extensive network of women, often ordering them on demand from their home country. Madams are reportedly often cruel and violent; inflicting physical and psychological harm on the women they’ve trafficked. Jeff Joy, a 48-year-old Nigerian woman who was last Wednesday extradited to Italy happens to be one of the established Nigerian prostitution ring leader.
Joy was one of the few women on Italy’s most-wanted list since 2010 for charges of criminal conspiracy, enslavement, trafficking in people, exploitation of prostitution and other offenses. A video released by the Italian police showed the woman being flown from the Nigerian capital Abuja to Ciampino airport in Rome where she was taken away in a wheelchair by police.
Joy had been on the list of the 100 most dangerous fugitives for some years after the Italian police investigation nailed her for perpetrating acts contravening the laws of the country. She had been sentenced to 13 years in prison in absentia following the conviction order against her by an Italian court for crimes including running a prostitution ring. According to reports, Italian police in a statement describes her as a prominent figure in the Nigerian mafia.
She was responsible for receiving potential Nigerian victims upon their arrival in Italy and managing their operations as they settled in Italy. Although street prostitution is lawful in Italy, the law forbids organised prostitution in the manner Joy had perpetrated it in the country. The statement from the Press Office of the Italian National Police further revealed that investigations into Joy’s crimes date back to 2007 when she oversaw cross-border prostitution business among Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.
“The investigations by the Ancona policemen date back to 2007 when the woman held an important role in the management of the prostitution business between Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, characterized by violence and threats also against the families of girls in Nigeria,” the statement read in part. The police hinged her extradition on the provision of the extradition treaty between Nigeria and Italy, largely facilitated by a collaborative effort by the Department of State Services, the judiciary and the Italian ambassador in Nigeria.
“The criminal is one of the few women included in the list of 100 dangerous fugitives, drawn up by the integrated joint group for the search for fugitives of the Central Directorate of the Criminal Police,” the Italian police stated. “His extradition represents the first provision under the extradition treaty between Italy and Nigeria, signed in 2020, and was possible thanks to the joint work of the Nigerian judiciary, the Italian ambassador in Nigeria and the Italian Ministry of Justice.
“Following an investigation by officials of the International Police Cooperation Service (SCIP) in the African country and the issuance of a red notice in 2010, the Department of State Services (DSS), the Nigerian intelligence service, managed to track down and arrest the woman on June 4, 2022, thanks also to the collaboration between the Italian immigration expert in Nigeria and the local police forces.”
The statement quoted Vittorio Rizzi, deputy chief of police, as saying, “Today Africa is confirmed as a strategic area for the search for fugitives and the fight against organized crime. Developing African countries also represent elective places for the laundering of the illicit capital of organised crime and Italy is committed at an international level to facilitate, through penal and administrative instruments, the tracing of the illicit assets of the mafias for their seizure and confiscate.”
The successful extradition was made possible due to the excellent collaboration between both countries, with the Italian Immigration Expert providing support to the local police forces. The extradition marks a unique event in relation to Italy and Nigeria as it was the first case since the extradition treaty came into power in 2020.
The process started immediately following her arrest on June 4, 2022 in Nigeria by local intelligence departments. Subsequently, on February 10, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami informed Italy’s ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Stefano De Leo that Joy would be handed over.