Imo businessman arrested over trafficking of girls from Ghana for onward delivery to Saudi Arabia

IMO State businessman Bernard James has been arrested for allegedly belonging to a syndicate that traffics girls to Saudi Arabia after investigations revealed that he was in the habit of recruiting young females from Ghana.


Mr James, reportedly worked with accomplices in Ghana, who sent girls to him for trafficking to Saudi Arabia, where they would work as housemaids. Investigations revealed that one Theresa, who lives in Ghana, had procured Ghanaian passports and Saudi Arabia visas for four girls but was unable to facilitate their travelling through Accra airport due to some immigration laws.


Names of two of the girls were given as Salamatu Al-Hassan, 22, and 18-year-old Memunat Isiaka. Theresa was said to have contacted Mr James to get the victims cleared at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.


Apparently, Mr James assured her that the girls would scale through screening processes at the Lagos airport and requested $800 to bribe immigration officials that would ensure their clearance. Later, the girls were brought to Lagos by road and Mr James picked two of them up around 1am on Saturday at a hotel in Ikotun and took them to an inn on Lagos Island.


A third victim was reportedly brought to the Lagos Island hotel by a cab driver. He wanted to pick the fourth girl, Isiaka, at a cross-border bus terminus in Yaba the same day, when operatives of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), acting on intelligence, arrested him.


Mr James, a native of Okwe in Imo State, who was paraded at the NSCDC office in Ikeja, said that he met Theresa in 2008 in China. He added that he agreed to receive the girls after a friend, Abbey, who he met at the Lagos airport on one of his trips to China, told him that their clearance was guaranteed.


“I used to travel to China to buy clothing materials and I met Theresa there in 2008 when she came to buy goods and we exchanged contacts. We have been chatting with each other since then and two weeks ago, she told me she had four girls that wanted to travel to Saudi Arabia and that I should help them to get cleared at the Lagos airport.


“She said there was a new rule in Ghana that made it difficult for the girls to travel through the airport in Accra. I called Abbey, an unofficial immigration agent and he said he knew immigration officers who could clear the girls for N50,000 each," Mr James added.


Tajudeen Balogun, the Lagos State commandant of the NSCDC, said the suspect and the victims would be handed over to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and other related matters. He added that some people called them that some persons were involved in human trafficking and the NSCDC quickly swung into action.