A housewife, Gift Nonye Ukatu has been sentenced to 13 years improsonment for human trafficking by a Lagos state High Court sitting in Ikeja.

The sentence was given by the presiding Judge, Hon. Justice Kudy Jose.

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The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) in a statement, said it arrested Ukatu in 2015 in Lagos following a tipoff from concerned Nigerians who knew her activities.

In the case with Charge number 1D/2227C/2015, Ukatu who earlier jumped bail and was re-arrested was slammed with a 6 counts charge of harbouring 2 girls that are under 12 years old and using them for forced labour, domestic workers and treating them as slaves contrary to Sections 22 (a), 23 (1) (a) and 25 (a) of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015.

The Charge is dated 21st December 2015. When arraigned in early 2016, the defendant pleaded not guilty to all the counts.

Trial however, commenced on 4th July 2016 and the case went through full trial. Delivering judgment late last week, Hon. Justice Jose convicted Ukatu on all the charges and sentenced her to 13 years imprisonment.

On counts 1 and 2, she was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment; Counts 3 and 4 (1 year imprisonment, and Counts 5 and 6 ( 7 years imprisonment).

The sentences are to run concurrently.

Reacting to this Judgement, Director-General of NAPTIP, Dame Julie Okah-Donli said that the judgement signals the beginning of hard times for human traffickers in 2018 in Nigeria.

She however, commended the Judiciary for its partnership with NAPTIP in the dispensation of justice especially with regard to human trafficking issues.

She advocated for more accelerated handling of human trafficking cases by Courts to ensure that victims of human trafficking get justice against their traffickers and their accomplices.