Port Harcourt — The Nigerian Navy has explained why it collaborated with the Nigerian Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, to carried out a raid in Port Harcourt to rescue 50 underage girls from human traffickers.
Commander, Nigerian Navy Ship, NNS Pathfinder, Commodore Suleiman Ibrahim, said the victims, mainly teenage girls from 14years and above, were rescued at the weekend after a tip-off from NAPTIP.
Ibrahim explained that the operation which lasted for more than one hour, saw security operatives arresting the underaged girls and their traffickers, who use them for the prostitution.
“We got the intelligence from NAPTIP, who had been tracking the brothels that camped juveniles with some of them as young as 14 years of age.
“So, after NAPTIP shared intelligence with us, a joint team was set up and we immediately went into action to rescue the victims.
“No fewer than 50 young girls forced into prostitution were rescued while three recruiters and operators of the brothels were arrested,” he said
The NNS Pathfinder boss said two brothels, namely Royal Brothel and Cool Breeze Brothel, both located on Azikiwe Road in Diobu area of Port Harcourt had been shut down.
He said that efforts were ongoing to arrest the leaders of the sex trafficking ring, who recruits children from villages into prostitution.
“Children are gifts from God, and we must do everything humanly possible to protect them from all forms of abuse and exploitation.
“The Nigeria Navy will continue to collaborate with relevant agencies to bring to justice criminal elements that traffic persons either on land or through the waterways.
“On conclusion of our investigation, the suspects and victims will be handed over to NAPTIP for further investigation and possible prosecution,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Head of NAPTIP in Rivers, Mrs. Nwa-amaka Ikediashi, said the agency would immediately rehabilitate the victims with a focus to reintegrating them back into the society.
According to her, the victims, mainly under-aged girls, would also partake in different phases of counseling, to ensure they don’t continue prostitution.
“NAPTIP, as the focal agency mandated to fight all forms of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, will conduct a proper investigation, to ensure justice is served,” she promised.
One of the rescued minors, an Anambra indigene, told newsmen that she was trafficked from her village to work as a house help, but ended up being lured into prostitution.
“One of my village women brought me and two other girls from our village with the impression that we are coming to serve in a hotel.
“Shortly after we arrived at the hotel, she (trafficker) went outside and collected money from one woman (brothel operator). That was the last time I saw her (trafficker).
“Later, the woman, simply known as madam, put us in a room and told us that we would work as (prostitutes),” she said.
The victim said she immediately refused to work as a prostitute but after the operator threatened her with torture and starvation, she gave in.
“In a day I sleep with more than 10 men, and whatever money I make, I give it to my madam.
“We hustle by wearing pants to seduce the men. We do a daily account of any money we collect to our madam’s sister, who calculates and gives us our cut,” she added.
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