A Federal High Court in Lagos, on Tuesday, sentenced three women to seven years in prison each, for human trafficking.
The convicts are: Precious Owoh (a.k.a. Ejiro), 32; Blessing Gabriel, 28; and Rose Gabriel, 28.
The convicts were charged by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and Other Related Offences.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the convicts who are residents of Ajah in Lagos, were arraigned before the court sometime in October 2015, on four counts of recruiting, trafficking, exporting, and promoting prostitution of young girls.
They were said to have committed the offence with one Otubo Nicole, who is said to be at large, between October 2014 and July, 2015.
The offences contravenes the provisions of sections 13(1)(2)(b), 13(4)(a)(c), 14(b) and 18 of the Trafficking In Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015.
The convicts had pleaded not guilty to the charges, and were accordingly admitted to bails on different terms.
During their trial, the prosecution called four witnesses, including the victim, and three intelligence officers of NAPTIP.
In her testimony, the victim had told the court how she was contacted by the convicts for the illicit profession, and how the first convict had paid her trip to Dubai.
She had told the court that before departing Nigeria, she was made to believed that she would be engaged in a vocation but was dismayed when she introduced into prostitution on arrival in Dubai.
She also told the court how the first convict subjected her to all sorts of inhuman treatment, for failure to do her bidding overseas.
Also, all the intelligence officers of the agency who testified as Pw1- Pw4, had narrated before the court the roles each of them played in arresting the convicts, and how they were investigated.
Delivering judgment on Tuesday, Justice Kuewumi held that from the totality of evidences by the prosecution, he was satisfied that the prosecution had successful proved its case against all the defendants.
“Consequently, the first and second, defendants are guilty of count one, two, three and four, while the third defendant is guilty of only count one and two but discharged and acquitted of count three and four,” he said
Before sentence, counsel to the convicts, Mr Oke Ojakove, pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy, as the convicts were first time offenders.
Ojakovo, had also urged the court to give the convicts a reformatory sentence in accordance with Section 416(2)(b) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act ACJA, 2015, urging the court to also consider the days the convicts had already spent in detention.
In his judgment, Justice Kuewumi held that the offence of trafficking in persons is a very serious offence which has negatively affected the image of the country internationally.
He, consequently, sentenced the first and second convicts to two years imprisonment on count one, and five years imprisonment on count two, three and four.
The court also sentenced the third convict to two years imprisonment on count one, and five years on counts two.
He held that the terms shall run concurrently.
The judge, however, gave the convicts an option of fine of N250, 000, for the charge of recruiting.
Justice Kuewumi also ordered them to pay one million naira each for trafficking, exporting and promoting prostitution of young girls.