Twelve Nigerians jailed for sex trafficking, others in France
A Marseille Criminal Court in France on Friday sentenced twelve Nigerians – five women and seven men to prison terms ranging from two to nine years.
According to AFP and Nigeria Abroad, the culprits, who belong to Eiye Confraternity, were arraigned for “trafficking in human beings,” “assistance with illegal residence,” and “procuring” women for sex.
The court issued an arrest warrant against three defendants absent from the deliberations, while four others – including two women – were arrested in a bar. The couple who appeared from detention stayed detained.
Three men were sentenced to nine years in prison. They are Tony Osemiwigie, 27, presented as the “Essential central figure” of this criminal network of exploitation of prostitutes in Marseille; Kelly Orobosa, 27, described as the organiser of the passage of these migrants between Italy and France; and Happy Sunday, one of his deputies.
Osemiwigie’s partner, Vera Okoro, was sentenced to eight years in prison. The couple had been denounced in 2017 by “Tassy” and “Beauty,” two prostitutes who joined as a civil party.
At the hearing, the victims recounted how, once they arrived in Europe, they were forced to become sex workers in order to reimburse their costs, usually set between 45,000 and 60,000 euros.
One of them confirmed that she was raped when she refused to “work,”, and was even scalded after being tied to a bed.
Two other defendants, “mamas” – former prostitutes who became pimps once their debt was cleared – were sentenced to five and six years in prison and immediately arrested.
“I changed my life, I work now, and my son needs me,” one of them, ‘Joy’ Uyi, had said at the end of the debates.
In her indictment, prosecutor Sophie Couillaud mentioned Thursday the establishment in Marseille of these Nigerian criminal gangs: “This case plunges into the commodification at the highest level of the human being. Less noisy than what we usually consider, linked to drug trafficking and settling of scores, this crime should not settle in Marseille.”
According to the prosecution, the defendants “belong to the criminal group Eiye Confraternity,” one of those who gained a foothold in Europe, especially in Italy. It was originally a Nigerian student fraternity.
All the defendants, and also the 20 or so prostitutes they exploited in Marseille and Nice, come from Edo State in Nigeria.
“The capital, Benin City, is the most important centre of human trafficking in Nigeria,” explained Couillaud.
“The vast majority of Nigerian migrants arriving on the Italian coasts are from there.”