By Amadou Jadama
A victim in a trafficking trial involving her fellow Nigerian Obanla Damilola Beatrice, has started giving evidence at Barra Magistrates’ Court presided over by Senior Magistrate Anna Mendy. Beatrice is facing a single count of human trafficking which she denied. She is accused of trafficking the witness and her sister from Nigeria into the Gambia for the purpose of prostitution.
The witness told the court that she arrived in the Gambia on the 2nd January 2022 with her sister and fellow victim as well as the accused herself. She said the accused person’s younger brother informed her father that she was looking for a girl to assist her in The Gambia.
“We then visited the accused person’s place in Delta where she asked about my occupation and I told her I am a hair dresser. She then discussed with my father and demanded money worth D250, 000, for my transportation from Nigeria to the Gambia. I paid that along with five other girls and the accused prepared our passports and paid for our COVID-19 test in Nigeria after which we left to come to the Gambia,” she told the court.
The witness thrilled the court when she revealed that while travelling to The Gambia at some point in Nigeria, immigration officers intercepted them, and informed them that the accused is a human trafficker before handcuffing her. “But the accused told the officers that we were her sisters on our way to Benin to assist her in selling food at her restaurant but we told the officers that she was taking us to the Gambia. We stayed at the Immigration there from 1pm to 12am with the accused arguing with the officers, who seized her phone and showed pornographic movies to us and repeated to us that this was the accused person’s job, but she denied the allegations and the officers took the money from her and told us to go back to our states,” the witness told the court.
The witness said four of the girls returned home but she and her sister refused to go back and stayed with the accused on the journey. “Upon our arrival in Cotonou, the accused person paid our transportation to Senegal from where we arrived at Amdalai and stayed in one compound for one week. While we were there, we overheard the accused discussing with her Gambian friend one Lamin Drammeh, telling him that she did not know what to do with us.
The accused further said we cannot be eating in her house and not working and then took us to a lodge called South Africa where she said would be our new lodging and introduced us to the manager of the Lodge by the name JJ, also a Nigerian. Then the accused and JJ went to his house and upon her return she told us that she is returning to Toubakuta. We asked her what kind of work are we going to do at the lodge here, and she responded to us that sex work and further told us that it is the lodge where she herself works and gets her money from,” the witness said.
She said they told the accused that was not what she told them back in Nigeria and she must pay their money back.
“The accused started begging us to do the sex work which we refused and then she later left with her friend for Toubakuta,” the witness said. The trial continues.