The police in Italy have arrested and charged two men, Al Mabrouc Harar and Mohamed Al Bouzid, to court over the deaths of 26 Nigerian women while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea.
This is just as the Nigeria’s anti-trafficking agency, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, on Wednesday called for intelligence from whistle-blowers to be able to arrest and prosecute human trafficking syndicates across the country.
According to United Kingdom’s News men, Harar, from Libya, and Al Bouzid, an Egyptian, were identified by the survivors as among those who allegedly tumbled one of the boats.
It had been reported on Monday that the remains of the 26 Nigerian women believed to be migrants were recovered from a Spanish warship, Cantabria, which docked in Salerno, and was found to be carrying 375 rescued migrants and the deceased.
According to reports, the 26 women – some of them as young as 14 – were on a rubber boat with 64 other persons and were killed in a shipwreck off the coast of Libya.
News men learnt that the two men were accused before a court in Italy of organising and trafficking at least 150 people on two sunken boats, but prosecutors had yet to make a direct link between the two men and the women’s deaths.
According to News men, most of the survivors were either Nigerians or from other sub-Saharan countries including Ghana, Sudan and Senegal.
Meanwhile, the NAPTIP Director General, Julie Okah-Donli, who made the call for whistle-blowers’ policy, said the agency had intensified its surveillance efforts to outsmart the traffickers.
Okah-Donli said this on Wednesday while reacting to the conviction of two traffickers, Ernest Obieze and Ferdinand Okechukwu, by a Federal High Court sitting in Enugu State for the “unlawful procurement and sexual abuse of an eight-year-old girl.”
The convicts were sentenced to a five-year jail term each with an additional fine of N100,000 each, after being arraigned on seven counts.
The DG said, “We have intensified our surveillance efforts as well as other intelligence gathering mechanisms to ensure that these traffickers are arrested. We appeal to Nigerians to expose questionable people suspected to be traffickers. This is why the public must key into the whistle-blowing policy of the agency to expose these perpetrators.”