SUPREME Court has upheld the conviction of a human trafficker, Martina Opara, and subsequently sentenced her to 14 years imprisonment for trafficking in persons. This is even as the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, in Wuse, presided over by Justice M. M Kolo, sentenced a 48–year old man, Shehu Abubakar, to 12 years imprisonment for sexually abusing two boys. According to a statement by the Head, Press and Public Relations, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, Josiah Emerole, yesterday, the decision of the apex court brings to an end the prolonged legal battle which started in 2008. The statement said the convict, Opara, who was arrested in 2008 was charged to court on a nine-count charge including: procurement and movement from place to place of three girls; using and offering girls for prostitution in Nigeria; deceitful inducement of girls to go from Calabar to Sagamu and confined and detaining girls for prostitution. The statement said all the offences are contrary to Sections 15(a) and Section 19 (a,b,c) of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act 2003 (as amended in 2005). “On April 19, 2012, a Federal High Court sitting in Abeokuta and presided over by Justice R.N Ofili-Ajumogobia found her guilty of the charges and sentenced her to 14 years imprisonment with hard labour.
“Not satisfied with the judgment, Opara approached the Court of Appeal, Ibadan Division, which in 2014 in an unanimous decision dismissed the appeal for lacking merit. “Still not satisfied with the Appeal Court’s judgment, she went further to the Supreme Court. But in an unanimous decision delivered by Justice Mary Odili on Friday, February 24, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and affirmed the decisions of the lower courts,” it revealed that reacting to the Supreme Court’s judgment, acting Director-General, NAPTIP, Abdulrazak Dangiri, expressed delight that the matter has finally come to an end. He expressed hope that the judgment would serve as a deterrent to human traffickers, as the agency is determined to follow all cases to a logical conclusion. In another statement by NAPTIP’s spokesman, the convicted Abubakar was dragged to court by NAPTIP, under the Violence against Persons Prohibition, VAPP, Act 2015, where he pleaded guilty to the two counts charge. The statement said the convict haboured the two boys, aged between 14 and 15 years old in his apartment under the pretence of providing accommodation for them and in the process had canal knowledge of them continuously through their anus. This conviction brings to two the convictions secured by the agency under the VAPP Act 2015. Reacting to this conviction, Dangiri expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the case. He, however, added that the agency will not rest on its laurels in dealing with issues of violence against persons in Abuja.

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