By noon on Tuesday, June 20, the major actors in the human smuggling attempt had been nabbed as the scheme that started in Abuja came to a grinding halt at the border control office of the Nigeria Immigration Service office in Seme, the town at the Nigeria– Benin Republic border.
Tricked from home
The girls, three of whom are minors, are all under the age of 19 and are identified only by their surnames. The most outspoken of them, Ojomo, 19, a two-year-old apprentice hairdresser, gave Saturday Sun a comprehensive recount of their odyssey.
“On Thursday, June 14, me and my friends went out and we met a man who said he wanted to introduce us to a woman, later identified as Princess. When we met her, she told us she needed girls that can help as salesgirls in her mother’s hotel. We were at first reluctant, but later agreed to go and see the place first and if okay, we would stay; otherwise, we would return back home.”
They commenced the journey the next day and arrived at 10 pm at Sunshine Hotel, located in Imeke, Aradagun axis of Badagry. “The moment the hotelier set eyes on us, she rejected us,” Ojomo said. “She told Princess, ‘These are not the kind of girls I want. They are too young’.”
According to her, the hotelier, Ijeoma Chinasa Anyanwu, insisted that the girls be returned, but Princess was adamant that if she must take them back, she must be refunded the expenses incurred transporting them down to Lagos. “We did not have money. And she refused to pay for our fare back home,” Ojomo recalled.