A 16-year-old female student of a government secondary school in Benin, Edo State, has recounted how she was kidnapped on her way home from school and trafficked to neighbouring countries.
The teenager said the incident occurred on June 11, 2021, when she boarded a cab with two other young girls from school.
According to her, shortly after the journey started, the driver told them: “If you shout, we will kill you.”
The student said she was eventually trafficked to Cotonou in Benin Republic, Mali and other countries and used as a sex worker until she narrowly escaped.
Sharing her experience, the student, identified as Deborah, said: “Throughout the journey, we were not allowed to urinate as the driver insisted that the instruction given to him was not to make any stop until we were delivered to a particular destination.
“After a short stop in Cotonou, the journey continued for another three days until we got somewhere where we were handed over to someone and transferred into a long bus going to Mali.
“On our arrival in Mali, we were handed over to a lady who told us she is our madam. She kept the three of us inside a room and later brought clothes for us, gave us food and water to drink.
“At night, the madam gave us some skimpy clothes and asked us to prepare for work. When I asked her what kind of work we were going for, she slapped me saying I ask too many questions. I refused to join them that night and the madam gave me a serious beating.
“She locked me inside the room for some days without food before she brought me out. She began to bring men into the house to have sex with me.
“It was always painful sex because they usually forced themselves on me.
“Anytime I refused to sleep with any of the men, the madam would beat me mercilessly and lock me up without food.
“After some weeks, the madam said we were going to Senegal. She threatened that since I was not making enough money for her, she would sell me to some people there. When we got to Senegal, the man that she wanted to sell me to asked to see my palm. When he looked at it, he told my madam to take me back to Nigeria.
“The same thing happened when she wanted to sell me to another place. After those two incidents, she started calling me a witch. She said I was useless and that one day she would use a pestle to kill me.”
When Deborah finally reunited with her 45-year-old mum who is a widow, she didn’t realise that she was pregnant until about two months later, Vanguard reports.
Narrating to Encounter in Benin City, how her daughter’s pregnancy was discovered, Deborah’s mother said: “After her return, I took her for medical check-up at the Central Hospital, Benin City and the reports came out positive that she was pregnant. Scan from two hospitals showed that she was pregnant with twins. Many people advised that we should abort the pregnancy but I refused because it is against my religious belief. Instead, I registered her at the Central Hospital where she started attending antenatal.”
Continuing, Deborah’s mother said: “Sometime in December last year when I came back from hawking the goods I sell, she complained that she was having terrible pains so I gave her paracetamol but her condition worsened. In the morning, I quickly took her to the clinic where they admitted her.
“She kept complaining of pain throughout the night. They said she was having conception pain. In the middle of confusion and panic, she went into labour in the waiting room where she gave birth to the twins prematurely.
“The doctors at the Central Hospital asked us to take the babies to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, UBTH where they can be placed in an incubator. On getting to UBTH, we were told that there was no space. We were referred to Modic Hospital but on getting there, we lost the babies. They died on arrival at the private clinic. At this point, my daughter was still at UBTH and bleeding profusely, the doctors battled to save her life. She bled for two days; throughout that period, I was praying to God to save my daughter’s life.
“We bought blood for her and after a few hours, she was stabilised. When she was due to be discharged, I didn’t have money to pay for the medical bills; it was one Otaigbe and other doctors that contributed money for my daughter.”
Deborah’s mother said the traffickers are still after her daughter’s life, calling on relevant authorities to intervene in the matter.