Saturday, July 31, 2010
I got $100 on each Nigerian girl trafficked to Egypt – Alfa
Alhaji Abdul Kabir Abdulsalaam comes across as a pious, soft spoken gentleman. His mien is calm and composed. But it is said that not all that glitter is gold, hence he is suspected to have engaged in human trafficking between Nigeria and Egypt. He is under arrest and in the custody the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and other Related Offences.
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Abdulsalaam a 37-year-old father of two had moved to Egypt four years ago to study Islamic Studies, but he ended up reading Psychology for reasons he would not disclose. ‘‘I am a 300 level Psychology student of the Al-azhar University, Cairo,‘‘ he said. Unable to further his interest in Islam academically, Abdulsalaam became an alfa, the Christian equivalent of a pastor. As it is to be expected with such a position, Abdulsalaam enjoyed a lot of favour within the Nigerian Muslim community in Egypt. Gifts and favours flowed to the Islamic cleric freely.
‘‘My position is such that a lot of people trust me. There are so many Nigerians who live in Egypt. They come to me in confidence and ask that I help them to get Nigerian girls into Egypt to serve as house helps,‘‘ said Abdulsalaam as he tried to exonerate himself from his alleged role as the leader of a human trafficking syndicate based in Egypt. ”‘I was only trying to help people. I barely make anything out of it. For bringing these girls over, I am only paid 100 dollars by those who requested for them. If I have to accommodate them while they are in Egypt, which I sometimes do, I am paid 400 dollars. But if I have to call job agencies myself to get jobs for them, the agencies pay me no money.‘‘ Abdulsalaam insisted that the girls so trafficked enjoyed kind treatment and favourable work conditions. ‘‘There are only two types of jobs they can do-babysitting and housecleaning. They don‘t combine both jobs and they work for 26 days with four days off as holidays, which they spend with their Nigerian guardians,‘‘ he said.
Head of NAPTIP, Lagos Zonal Office, Mr. Godwin Morka said victims were exploited and subjected to slavery. ‘‘These girls earned 350 dollars, out of which they had to pay 300 dollars to make up their debts to their Nigerian madams. To make up a debt of 4,800 dollars, one would have to work for nearly 18 months,‘‘ he said. Morka also noted that victims were immediately shipped to the various Egyptian families who needed them once they arrived. ”These girls work round the clock with little or no food. They are also not restricted to any one chore. Most of them combine both babysitting and cleaning. It was this inhuman treatment that forced one of his latest victims to cut short her stay in Egypt to return to Nigeria,‘‘ he added.
But Abdulsalaam denied collecting payments from the girls, saying that the affected girls only made payments to the Nigerian women who requested them. ‘‘If a girl comes from Nigeria unaccompanied, then she would have to pay 4,000 dollars to her madam. That is to offset the cost of bringing her over. If she is accompanied by an agent, she has to pay 4,800 dollars.‘‘
Mr. Godwin Morka said Abdulsalaam worked in tandem with Tajuden Akorede, an agent based in Nigeria, whose job was to arrange the travel arrangements of each girl. ‘‘Tajudeen also has two female accomplices who are presently on bail. Even after being paid by Abdulsalaam to arrange the necessary documents for travelling, Tajudeen would insist that each victim raised her own travelling expenses.‘‘ Morka said.
Akorede, a middle aged father of four, said he had known Abdulsalaam for two years. ‘‘I met him in Egypt in 2008 and since then, we have been working together. Formerly, I worked as a commercial bus driver in Lagos, but I had to stop because I kept having bouts of asthma.‘‘ Although he admitted collecting double payments for victims‘ travel documents, he blamed the practice on his ill health. ‘‘My health is not very good, so I don‘t always go to the embassy myself to sort things out. I have to use other agents there who have to be paid.‘‘
Abdulsalaam was arrested at Oregun, Lagos where Omotola, a girl he had trafficked to Egypt was to meet him with a microwave oven and an additional 250 dollars to claim her seized passport from him. Although resident in Egypt, Abdulsalaam was in Nigeria for business, possibly to recruit more girls for trafficking.
‘‘Omotola was intercepted at MMAII by SSS agents when she flew into the country under a ticket bearing a false identity. The name on her ticket was Hope and the SSS agents had previously arrested one Hope who they suspected was being trafficked to Egypt. ”We had to let her go for want of evidence. So, when another face showed up again bearing Hope, the SSS detained Omotola and contacted us,‘‘ Morka explained.
‘‘Normally, each victim would travel with already purchased return ticket. As it were, Omotola‘s ticket had expired and to save costs, Abdulsalaam declared her passport missing, and an emergency travel certificate was arranged for her to travel out of Egypt.‘‘
Hope, who had formerly been in NAPTIP custody, had only recently travelled back to Egypt. ‘‘If she had used Hope‘s ticket together with her passport, the fraud would have been easily discovered. That was why an Emergency Travel Certificate was quickly arranged for Omotola,‘‘ Morka said.
Posted by Linda Ikeji at 8:59 AM