Young female Nigerians are being trafficked into the country for sexual exploitation through the conspiracy of some Ghanaians and Nigerians under the pretext of securing them with decent and well-paying jobs.
Chidima Eke aged 24, and Gloria Ekerator aged 25, were part of the girls lured into the country for such purpose.
“Initially, they told us that they have good job offers for us in Ghana, but when we came, we realized that the situation was different,” they said.
Narrating their ordeals, Chidima said their leaders, Rejoice Bright and Nora Effiong in March, 2022, contacted one Olunkyeam who is based in Nigeria that they needed some young ladies to work in Ghana.
The victims said it was Olunkyeam who linked them up with their madams but unknown to them, Olunkyeam acted as an agent, and was paid GH¢1, 000. Equivalent to ($124 ) dollars
“Olunkyeam told us that Rejoice and Nora had lucrative jobs in Ghana and needed her compatriots who are sincere to work with.
The victims said Nora and Rejoice paid GH¢1,500.00 each to a driver who transported them to Ghana through unapproved routes.
“On arrival in Ghana, we were received by Rejoice and Nora at Baatsona in Accra on March 12, 2022 and we were given hotel rooms behind Adikanfo Lodge, Baatsona.
The following day, our new Madams bought dresses for us and led us to Chris Berry Pub area on the Spintex Road in the evening to solicit for sex from men in exchange for money and exercise books were allocated to each of us to record daily sales.” they said.
On April 4, 2022, a good samaritan met the victims and led them to report them to the Baatsona Police and this led to their rescue and further repatriation back to their home country, but their madams were later arrested and are currently facing trial at an Accra circuit court.
This story is not different from other Nigerian ladies practicing prostitution in the country.
Some of these ladies can be found in places all over the sixteen regions of the country.
Most popular places in Accra where these girls ply their trade include Ashaiman Police Station Area Called 18, Sakumono Titanic Beach Area, Tema Community 1 and 7 Areas, Spintex Kotobabi Area, Nungua Washing Bay, Abrefi, Nungua Kantamanto, Italian Boys, Teshie Tsuibleoo, Labadi, Teshie Maamli, Abease, Osu Castle Road, Accra Rawlings Park, Achimota St. Johns, Circle Railway Line, Lapaz Foot Bridge and Bigot, Kasoa Budumburam.
Apart from the areas mentioned, these girls can also be found in rented hotel facilities where they operate and these hotels are paid for by their ‘madams’.
At these areas, the ladies aged between 18 to 35 years, are openly seen wearing provocative dresses; go about their business together with other African counterparts.
One of the victims on condition of anonymity said they are sexually exploited for at least three to four months to repay all travel expenses and other costs before they are given the freedom to operate on their own.
She said in the course of their operation as prostitutes, they are forced to sleep during the day, and work at night when clients solicit for sexual intercourse in exchange for cash.
“We charge varied fees ranging from Ghc30 per round of sexual intercourse and for sleepover, we charge Ghc300, thus, depending on the individual, monies accrued are paid to our madam,” she revealed.
A Report from the Anti Human Trafficking Unit of the Ghana Police Service has shown that some of these Nigerian ladies end up being tortured by their Madams at the least provocation.
Chief Superintendent Mike Baah, Director of the Unit said most of the girls are forced into the trade out of their will.
“What we discovered through investigations was that the girls upon arrival into the country, are kept in a room, where occultic initiation rites are performed on them by their Madams before they are forced into the trade.
“We discovered that during the rites, the pubic hairs of the victims are shaved and offered to the deity where they are again made to take an oath that, should they defy the orders of their Madams, they would go mad or die and these acts put fear in them thereby, forcing them to do whatever they are told to do.
Others are also stripped naked and photos of their nudity taken, after which they are warned by their Madams that should they defy the orders or disobey them, the pictures would be posted on social media,” he revealed.
Chief Supt. Baah said in 2021 a total of eighty- eight (88) cases of human trafficking were recorded with three hundred and eighty – two victims(382) rescued.
In sex cases, 48 victims comprising 19 adults and 29 children between the ages of 9 to 14 years were rescued in sex related cases.
The number of perpetrators involved were 75 suspects with 44 being Ghanaians, 22 Nigerians, four Baukinabes, two Malians, two Gabonese, and a Sierra Leonean.
Ten of the cases were sent to court where seven were sentenced for human trafficking while three of the cases were in connection with child labour.
Adding, he said, in the first quarter of 2022, the Unit recorded 15 cases with 52 victims involved.
Five sex cases were recorded and victims rescued were eight in number who are all Nigerians involving six adults and two children.
But two of the perpetrators have been sentenced by a court for sex trafficking.
Meanwhile, the Director General of the Ghana Prisons Service, Isaac Kofi Egyir, says, as at July 7, 2022, there were 882 foreign nationals incarcerated in Ghana’s prisons.
Out of this number, he revealed that 259 representing 29.4 percent are Nigerian nationals.
Adding that the Nigerian nationals are the majority of foreign nations incarcerated for having committed various offences including robbery, defilement, trafficking, kidnapping, murder, stealing humans, defrauding among other crimes.
“As part of international protocol, the Service is mandated to report incarceration of any foreign national to their respective embassy and the Nigerian High Commission in Ghana has been given the details of their incarcerated compatriots,” he said.
Interventions of Nigerian Community in Ghana
The Secretary – General of the Nigeria Union of Traders Association, Ghana, (NUTAG) Comrade Evaristus Chukwuduruo Nwankwo has said leaders of the Nigerian Community in Ghana are aware of the problem and have often times intervened in rescuing some of the victims.
He said those committing this heinous crime, treat it as a business and they are highly networked.
“They have people in Nigeria who recruit the victims through deceit and illicit means and the Madams based in Ghana receive the girls and force them into prostitution; some out of their will…,” he said.
”There have been a number of times, the leaders of the Nigerian community in Ghana including myself and the High Commission have in divers ways assisted in repatriating most of these young innocent girls back to their home country.
“Together with the High Commission, we have toured the 16 regions of the country and also have representatives there who have been tasked to be on the lookout for such persons in order for us to be able to assist them.
Unfortunately, some of the victims who are already in the trade have refused to back off and to go back to Nigeria even after being offered ten thousand naira each for them to start up a new life in their home country claiming that the amount offered was insufficient.”
Enforcement of the law
The Deputy Accra Regional Police Commander Deputy Commissioner of Police, (DCOP) Dennis Abade says the law of Ghana binds everyone who falls within the jurisdiction of the Republic, with no exemption to persons.
He said in as much as majority of Nigerians in Ghana are law-abiding, the Ghana Police Service can also show proof of some Nigerian nationals who perpetrate lawlessness in the country.
“Identifying some of the prevalent criminal activities, some Nigerians vibrantly engage in include, Fraud (Cyber), Robbery, Kidnapping, Defilement, Rape, Causing Harm-usually using broken bottles to stab their target, Threat of Death, Narcotics, Prostitution (Soliciting for Immoral Sex), Human Trafficking (mostly young females brought from Nigeria to engage in prostitution) to mention a few.”
Speaking with ardor he said, these growing trends of crime within the Nigerian community in Ghana is gradually transcending into very significant numbers and if these concerns are not aggressively tackled and nipped in the bud, it will greatly affect and impair the reputation of Nigerians in Ghana.
“Providing Police statistical data as evidence to support this report can be as quick as a flash. However, considering the oneness between Ghana and Nigeria and the unbreakable brotherly bond, it will be inappropriate to wash our dirty linen in the full glare of the public. I will reiterate that the Police seek to protect the interest of all law-abiding persons, and Nigerians are no exception,” he maintained.
Nigerian High Commission’s Intervention
His Excellency Ibok- Ete Ekwe Ibas , the Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana in an interview said the Commission often liaised with its nationals, relevant stakeholders and top officials of government of Ghana in matters relating to crime and security and addressing other relevant issues that affected Nigerians living in Ghana.
“I wish to emphasize that the federal government of Nigeria headed by President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to the well- being of Nigerians wherever they maybe.
“Government recognizes their contributions to national development and as such, the mission shall also continue to serve you to ensure that we achieve the objectives of the federal government of Nigeria,” he said.
He urged Nigerians living in Ghana to be law abiding citizens to serve as informants to expose those engaged in crimes in Ghana and fulfill the mandate of being their brother’s keeper.
US Department of State report on Human Trafficking in Ghana
The 2005 Human Trafficking Act, amended in 2009, criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking.
The Human Trafficking Act prescribes penalties of a minimum of five years’ imprisonment, which were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape.
Ghana was upgraded from Tier 2 Watch List to a Tier 2 ranking in the 2018 TIP Report on human trafficking. The country is still conducive for human trafficking.
The report pointed out that the Government of Ghana does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so.
According to the 2021 US Department of State report, the government of Ghana maintained anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts.