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Premium Times’ Tobore Ovuorie’s SHOCKING Human Trafficking Mafia undercover Report

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One of the best works of fiction I read in 2013 was Chika Unigwe‘s On Black Sisters’ Street. Even though a lot of people don’t believe that writing about situations does anything to change things for the better, I strongly disagree because a crucial aspect of change is creating awareness to the situation. Reading On Black Sisters’ Street provided a world of insight into the world of human trafficking and prostitution.

We cannot afford to bury our head in the sand and pretend like it doesn’t exist in the society we live in. So an investigative reporter, Tobore Ovuorie going undercover in order to get to the root of this horrific situation going on in Nigeria, is greatly applauded. In collaboration with Premium Times and Zam Chronicles, they have presented a well written investigative report, titled “Inside Nigeria’s Ruthless Human Trafficking Mafia” {Please click here to read the full report}

Read some excerpts below.
***
Risk analysis and preparation
It had all started in Abuja, with me deciding to expose the human traffic syndicates that caused the death, through Aids, of my friend Ifuoke and countless others. As a health journalist, I had interviewed several returnees from sex traffic who had not only been encouraged to have unprotected sex, but who had also been denied health care or even to return home when they fell ill. They were now suffering from Aids, anal gonorrhea, bowel ruptures and incontinence. In the case of some of them, who hailed from conservative religious backgrounds, doctors in their home towns had denied them any treatment because they had been ‘bad’. I was also aware that powerful politicians and government and army officials, who outwardly professed religious purity, were servicing and protecting the traffickers.I wanted to break through the hypocrisy and official propaganda and show how, every day, criminals in Nigeria are helped by the powerful to enslave my fellow young citizens. My PREMIUM TIMES colleagues had done undercover work before; they had warned me of the risks, but had agreed to support me in my decision to go through with it. With my colleagues, and with the help of ZAM Chronicle, we then started in earnest.

Oghogho
I had advertised my wish to get to know a ‘madam’ whilst walking the streets of Lagos, dressed as a call girl.It worked. I had met Oghogho Irhiogbe, an accomplished, well-groomed graduate in her thirties (though she claimed to be only 26), and a wealthy human trafficker of note. My lucky hunch to tell her that my name was ‘Oghogho’ too had immediately warmed her to me. She told me I looked like her kid sister and from then on treated me like a favourite.

“Don’t worry about crossing borders and getting caught,” she had told me. “Immigration, customs, police, army and even foreign embassies are part of our network. You only run into trouble with them if you fail to be obedient to us.” I already knew this to be true. Two of the trafficked sex workers I had interviewed had tried to find help at Nigerian embassies in Madrid and Moscow, only to realise that the very embassy officials from whom they had sought deportation had immediately informed their pimps. They had eventually made it back to Nigeria only after they had developed visible diseases, such as AIDS-related Kaposi sarcoma.

“Precious had already made enough money to start building her own house in Enugu, halfway between Abuja and Port Harcourt.”

Forza Speciale
It’s a rule of thumb, I understand, that a syndicate subjects girls to classification through a check on their nude bodies and I, too – in the company of some male and female judges, headed by a trafficker called Auntie Precious – had been checked. I had received the highest classification. “This means that you don’t have to walk the streets. You can be an escort for important clients,” Auntie Precious had told me in a soft, congratulatory tone. The ones of ‘lesser’ classification were referred to as Forza Strada, the Road Force.

The party is held at a gorgeous residence along the Aguiyi Ironsi Way in Maitama, Abuja. This is designed to be a festive end to a great day, in which we went to church, hung out at the choicest places in town, shopped and got dressed in a suite at the Abuja power citadel, meeting point of the elite, the Transcorp Hilton.

“The ‘dividend’ is not from prostitution and trafficking alone, but Oghogho won’t tell me what the other source is.”

It is more like an orgy. Male and female strippers entertain guests, drugs abound, alcohol is everywhere in unrestrained flow; there is romping in the open. Also, big bags of money are changing hands. Barely an hour after we arrive, Oghogho receives a big jute bag, which is delivered from another room. As we walk out and she puts the money in the boot of her car, she smiles at me. “Don’t worry; very soon, you’ll get to receive dividend.” This ‘dividend’ is not from prostitution and trafficking alone, but Oghogho won’t tell me what the other source is. “When you come on board fully, you’ll know.”

Horror
A just-arrived traditional ‘doctor’ then puts us through rites that involve checking the horoscope of each girl as well as collecting some of her blood, fingernails, hair and pubic hair. He then picks out four of us as ‘problematic’ and says we will bring ‘bad luck’. Either he is really clairvoyant or he is a professional security operative who has run background checks on us, because he is right about at least three of the four. Two of us have had unfortunate earlier experiences involving deportation back to Nigeria and are possibly known to the authorities in Europe. I am number three.

What happens next is like a horror movie.

As we ‘unlucky’ four, are standing aside, Mama C talks with five well-dressed, classy, influential-looking visitors.The issue is a ‘package’ that Mama C has promised them and that she hasn’t been able to deliver. The woman points at me, but Mama C refuses and for unexplained reasons Adesuwa and Omai are selected. We all witness, screaming and trying to hide in corners, as they are grabbed and beheaded with machetes in front of us. The ‘package’ that the visitors have come for turns out to be a collection of body parts. The mafia that holds us is into organ traffic, too.

“We all witness Adesuwa and Omai being beheaded in front of us. The ‘package’ that the visitors have come for turns out to be a collection of body parts. ”

With all of us trembling and crying, I and the other three ‘unsuitable’ ones are herded into a separate room. Mama C comes later to take me to yet another room for questioning. Angry beyond measure, she whips me all night, telling me to yield information on the ‘forces’ protecting me. “You are going nowhere,” she keeps shouting. “I have invested too much in you!”

Escape
The original plan was for me to go with the transport as far as Cotonou, the capital of our neighbouring country Benin. But I don’t want to stretch it any longer. The border is usually very crowded and I plan to escape as soon as we are there. It works. Just after the Seme border post, in front of a crowded, muddy market, I run. Merging with the crowd, I take my top off – I have another top under it – and cover my head with a scarf. The army officer is following me, looking for me. I dive into a store and lose him.

“Just after the Seme border post, in front of a crowded, muddy market, I ran.”

I travel the twenty kilometres from the border motor park to Cotonou by minibus taxi.Colleague Reece – alerted by a phone call the driver helps make to her to ensure that she will be there to pay him – will wait for me there. Upon arrival, I see a woman I recognise from her Facebook photo. “Reece?”“Tobore!” She cries and holds out her arms to catch me. “I am safe.”

***

Her account of events is quite bone chilling. We hope that someone, somewhere will read this and help get to the bottom of this problem.

Amongst some concerns raised since her report came out are, Tobore’s safety, as well as getting this information to organizations who can do something about the situation.

See these tweets below:

We need more courageous people like Tobore.  Thank you for shedding light on this terrible acts.

Photo Credit: ireport.cnn.com

You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore. Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website atoke.com for more information.

37 Comments

  1. Troll

    January 24, 2014 at 10:39 am

    I once wrote a really cool story (if I can say so myself) about human trafficking. It’s a crime that is seriously eating away at our society, and not just Nigeria. Y’all need to see what is happening in the Latin American countries; people are traded everyday like oranges. You may think it’s not that serious ‘cos it does affect you but it affects everyone of us. So keep your eyes open people; slavery may be dead but it’s very much alive.

  2. mrs chidukane

    January 24, 2014 at 10:45 am

    This is horrifying

  3. lilz

    January 24, 2014 at 10:55 am

    i read this report which led me to read “macbeth in cameroon”….HORRIFIC!!

  4. Bunmi

    January 24, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Shaking..this is terrifying…..and these people are in our midst

  5. Bunmi

    January 24, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Shaking..this is terrifying…..and these people are in our midst. God help us

  6. Okechukwu Ofili

    January 24, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    Refreshing to see people like Tobore Ovuorie being recognized versus all the other’s people tend to focus on. Shit is happening in Nigeria that is sad and depressing but yet the media chooses to focus on triviality

  7. chubaz

    January 24, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    This Is Just Grusome .. I’m really Scared of raising kids in a Country where such ills are a Norm in society..

    • ennn

      January 24, 2014 at 2:38 pm

      Do you even know the meaing of a norm? If this is a norm, there wouldn’t be need for an investigative journalism….SMH!

  8. Adah

    January 24, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    Wow. This is a courageous move. Tobore sure deserves a national award for this sort of Journalism. We all need to lend our voices to make sure this trafficking cabal is brought to book.

  9. Dona

    January 24, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    We need brave ones to tell their stories, however, nobody should dare try infiltrating a trafficking ring. What if they’d beheaded her as well? There’s probably other ways to stop this issue. Prayer is also key. This is bone chilling.

  10. YEYEAREWA

    January 24, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    OMO MEHN! I DONT WANNA BE IN THIS KINDA SITUATION! NEVER! I HAVE BEEN APPROACHED BY A NUMBER OF RICH, INFLUENTIAL WOMEN RIGHT HERE IN ABUJA. THEY EVEN GO AS FAR AS TELL YOU THAT “YOUR MOTHER MUST BE PRAISED 4 RAISING SUCH A BEAUTY” ” DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH YOU CAN MAKE WITH A BODY LIKE THAT?”BLA BLA BLA… IF YOU ARE NOT SMART OR EDUCATED, YOU WILL FALL 4 THEIR ANTICS #TRUSTME

  11. Neo

    January 24, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    This is chilling to the bone. She took a really really big risk.

  12. whocares

    January 24, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    My goodness, and to think she came so close to death, and all these things are going on. . I cannot comment fully now I am in shock. Tobore well done for what you have done, and I am soo glad and happy you survived to tell this tale. I don’t even know what to do to help…

  13. nwa babii

    January 24, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    nawa oh!

  14. Buki

    January 24, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    This is numbing.

  15. chydee

    January 24, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Shocking! Well done Tobore.

  16. Bleed Blue

    January 24, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    Crazy! Just crazy! This can only subsist (freely) in a country where human life isn’t worth the birth certificate it’s recorded on…my heart is heavy 🙁

  17. Solafunmi

    January 24, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    Oh My God!!!! This is happening in our midst. Oh My God, pls help us.

  18. BOLARINWA FAJEMILEHIN

    January 24, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    THIS IS A FANTASTIC JOB BUT YOU TOOK A VERY BAD RISK.MY BROTHER RAN INTO THIS MESS CALLED TROLLEY(HUMAN TRAFFICKING TO EUROPE) IN THE NINETIES.IT WAS A TERRIBLE EXPERIENCE.I PAID WITH MY LIFE INVESTMENT,MY JOB,A SON,THREE VEHICLES AND AT THE END HE DIENT GO ANYWHERE.THEY ARE INTO A LOT OF THINGS FROM DRUG,FRAUD,RITUAL,HOMOSEXUAL,LESBIAN,TO CANIBALISM.YOU FIND ALL SORT OF PEOPLE WHO MATTER IN THE SOCIETY THERE.THE POLITICIANS,POLICE,ARMY,LAWYERS,CIVIL DEFENCE,IMMIGRATION,CUSTOM,NDLEA,NAFDAC.MENTION THEN SO IF YOU WANT TO BREAK THEM,YOU MIGHT NEED TO ERADICATE THE HUMAN RACE AND RAISE NEW HUMAN.I FOLLOWED MY BROTHER TO ALMOST ALL AFRICA COUNTRIES BECAUSE HE WANTED ME TO SEE HIM OUTSIDE AFRICA.ALL CAME TO ZERO.MIND THE RING LEADER THEN WAS EVEN HIS GIRL FRIEND.

    • ayo

      January 28, 2014 at 3:55 pm

      pls rewrite ins small letters, its diffucult to read when u write in caps

  19. slice

    January 24, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    Ok this was not a good idea.

  20. Mz Socially Awkward....

    January 24, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Oh, my Lord. This kind of horror is difficult to take in!! They were trafficking prostitutes and also using some of their victims as human sacrifices????? I read the whole report and cannot believe someone put herself in so much danger like that in search for the truth… what is going to happen now? She said she lost her phone with recordings but she must surely still be able to identify the culprits? Actually, I’m really worried for her safety now, with her name out there like that and all the security officials and influential people she’s able to witness against. We thank our heavenly God for keeping her alive in all of it and for the power of social media, Tobore had BETTER not go missing now this story has broken. Nigeria’s leaders can’t continue burying their heads in the sand and pretending there are no problems to be tackled, which kain messed up, almost-forsaken country wey we get so????

    And as for the people involved, who have sold their very souls for the love of money…. I don’t know whether to pray to God to visit you in judgement or to pray for Him to show mercy on the unwitting family members and loved ones around you who are heedlessly chopping the money you’re feeding them with, without realizing the amount of blood that’s also on their heads…

  21. Somebody Somewhere

    January 24, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    The devil has really taken hold of the soul of some people in this land! Bravo, Brave One! Your type are scarce in this clime.

  22. nala

    January 24, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    I don’t know why but this story is weird to me. I read the one here and it seemed incomplete. I went ahead to read the full report from the link and it still does’t add up. Somehow more information is needed.

  23. Nneks

    January 24, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    Goosebumps

  24. xoxo

    January 24, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    Wow! Tobore is brave, and must be celebrated . She was willing to risk her life, willing to make a change. Much effort has to be put into stopping human trafficking.
    It should be a joint effort as well, if governments in neighboring countries such as Cameroon, Ghana, Benin etc can put in more effort with the Nigerian govt. ,it will definitely help.

  25. pynk

    January 24, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    Madness all round. Not even sure what to say anymore. A lot of celebrated people in nigeria do not have clean hands. Many society women are pimps, many young ladies are willing to sell their souls for the promise of material things. We have a poverty of the mind all round. It’s extremely saddening.

  26. kokie

    January 24, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    Speechless. Unfortunately, this is happening worldwide and the partakers of these are always shocking when you find out. Tobore , you are blessed not lucky. god wanted this story out. If everyone reading this says a prayer for her and about the situation, it will start to ebb. May god provide good brave people to fight and expose this problem.

    Girl, now please watch your 6. God be with you.

  27. omotola

    January 24, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    @Nana like u readin my mind, d story jus gas a lot of cuts & add ups… very horrific & same time blurry. dis isnt a ful report hence may disregard for now…

    • well

      January 24, 2014 at 9:46 pm

      You can go undercover and help her compete the gaps in the
      story.

    • esther

      January 24, 2014 at 11:50 pm

      lol; i tire O ; a young woman has risked her life to expose this evil yet una de talk cuts and gaps; she mentioned ex colonel; she mentioned house in lagos and abuja; she mention police; she also say the matter is with the authorities; what else do you want

    • Iris

      January 24, 2014 at 11:57 pm

      LOL! Abi?

  28. Demmy

    January 24, 2014 at 11:33 pm

    This was so chilling to read. She was really brave to do what she did. Hope officials look into this .xx

  29. dabasics

    January 26, 2014 at 4:18 am

    Breath-stopper…incredible investigation. This is what call journalist of conscience with mind to see to the societal development. More power to your elbow.

  30. Keno

    February 3, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    This is a great work of fiction. Please don’t believe any of this nonsense by Tobore. Human trafficking is a terrible crime against humanity we all know. For sure, we must do everything possible to fight it but journalism is about truth not fiction.
    Tobore was one of the selected journalists that attended a media roundtable organised by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (NAPTIP) and the Nigeria Country Office of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). She appeared there with her head shaven. At the event, the journalists were briefed by the organisers about the evil of human trafficking, the involvement of Nigerians and urged to help bring the heinous crime to limelight. If indeed, Tobore went through the kind of ordeal she painted in her story, that venue would have been the best forum to draw attention to her plight. As a matter of fact she asked the organisers after one of the presentations if NAPTIP and UNODC would support her if she wanted to do an investigative story and she was assured of whatever support she would need.
    You can then imagine how surprised those who attended the roundtable meeting barely two months ago, must have been to suddenly see a story she was supposed to have been investigating over four years supposedly inspired by the loss of a friend who fell victim of human trafficking and died of HIV AIDS. Haba. Of course, we her colleagues are not surprised. She has always been a pathological liar.
    For those who love tales by moonlight, this could be what you need to bring tears to your eyes but as a journalist, I think Ms Ovuorie should face the appropriate professional body for some disciplinary action for presenting fiction as an investigative story. Premium Times should also face some sanctions for this unethical practice.
    I know some of you will attack me for daring to rubbish what you consider a brave effort by Tobore even with all the holes in the story but pardon me, the truth must be told.

  31. Michael

    February 5, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    This story is an embarassing piece of fiction and the so called “award winning star journalist a shame for its profession.

    That this story is re-published without concern and even called “well-written” is so poor.

    read here:

    xokigbo.wordpress.com/2014/01/26/tobore-ovuories-story-fact-or-fiction/
    Use google and facebook to find more

    • Chi

      February 8, 2014 at 11:45 pm

      The real surprise is that people defend this nonsense. Please PT should stop lying. I used to respect them with the Sanusi story, but this professional lie has ended it for me.

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