The Supreme Court of Nigeria has upheld the conviction of a human trafficker, Martina Opara, and subsequently sentenced her to 14 years imprisonment for trafficking in persons. The decision of the apex court brings to an end the prolonged legal battle which started in 2008.
The convict, Opara, who was arrested in 2008 was charged to Court on a 9 counts charge including: procurement and movement from place to place of 3 girls; using and offering girls for prostitution in Nigeria; deceitful inducement of girls to go from Calabar to Sagamu and confined and detaining girls for prostitution. All the offences are contrary to sections 15(a) and section 19(a,b, and c) of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act 2003 (as amended in 2005).
On 19th April, 2012, a Federal High Court sitting in Abeokuta and presided over by Hon. Justice R.N Ofili Ajumogobia found her guilty of the charges and sentenced her to 14 years imprisonment with hard labour. Not satisfied with the judgment, Opara approached the Court of Appeal, Ibadan Division which in 2014 in a unanimous decision dismissed the appeal for lacking merit.
Still not satisfied with the Appeal Court judgment, she went further to the Supreme Court. But in a unanimous decision delivered by Hon. Justice Mary Odili on Friday February 24, 2017, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and affirmed the decisions of the lower Courts.
Reacting to the Supreme Court judgment, Acting Director-General of NAPTIP, Mr. Abdulrazak Dangiri expressed delight that the matter has finally come to an end. He expressed the hope that the judgment would serve as a deterrent to human traffickers as the Agency was determined to follow all cases to a logical conclusion.
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