A notorious human trafficker in Edo State, Mrs. Felicia Osaigbovo, also known as Mama Masha, has been sentenced to 12 years imprisonment and a fine of ₦24 million by the Edo State High Court in Benin City.
Mama Masha, who resides at Okuarobo Street, Off St. Saviour Street, Upper Sakponba Road, Benin City, was arraigned on July 1, 2021, on a 24-count charge related to assisting persons engaged in trafficking in persons.
The convict was also accused of organizing foreign travels that promoted prostitution for twelve victims currently in Belgium.
Despite pleading not guilty to all the charges, the prosecution called three witnesses to testify against Mama Masha, including a Belgian police officer, Mr. Jimmy Wellem Hendrik.
Hendrik, who flew in from Brussels, provided compelling evidence that implicated Mama Masha and her family members.
Three of her children, Aigbe Egberanmen, Aigbe Daniel, and Osaigbovo Nathaniel, were also involved in the trafficking case and were sentenced in Belgium.
Aigbe Egberanmen received a six-year sentence and a fine of €108,000, while Aigbe Daniel was fined €108,000 and sentenced to five years. Osaigbovo Nathaniel received a five-year prison term and a fine of €48,000.
The Belgian police officer disclosed that Mama Masha was responsible for recruiting the victims in Benin City and transporting them to Europe for sexual exploitation and prostitution. The victims, aged between 14 and 23, were trafficked in March 2015.
During cross-examination, Hendrik described the graphic nature of the prostitution activities, with Nigerian girls dressing scantily and openly soliciting customers from windows and private clubs in Belgium.
The judge, Justice Geraldine Imadegbelo, found Mama Masha guilty on all 24 counts. In her ruling, she handed down a 12-year prison sentence and a ₦24 million fine.
The case highlights the ongoing issue of human trafficking and the importance of combating it both in Nigeria and abroad.
The victims, who have been rescued from the prostitution ring, have been resettled in Belgium and are now involved in legitimate businesses.
The sentencing of Mama Masha sends a strong message that human trafficking will not be tolerated and that those involved will face severe consequences.
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