In what has been hailed as a strong message to human traffickers and their allies, the Edo State Taskforce against Human Trafficking (ETAHT) has nabbed a pastor and his accomplice for conniving with a sponsor in Russia to traffic a 22-year-old girl from the state.
It was gathered that the prime suspect, one Pastor Marvelous Odalo, who is the General Overseer of Mega Charismatic Fire Ministry, reportedly worked with a ‘madame’ in Russia to traffic the girl.
He was arrested following a tip-off from the girl (name withheld), who has since returned from Russia. She claimed that she and her sister were deceived and fell for the antics of the pastor and his accomplice.
Narrating her ordeal, the victim said her problem commenced after she agreed to go to Europe and her Madam’s mother took her to the pastor’s church for oath-taking. “The pastor asked me to stand on top of a white handkerchief and N1000 note on the altar. He asked me to repeat what he was saying and that if I refuse to pay my madam, something bad will happen to me,” she said.
She continued, “I was asked to pay $50,000, which is N17, 850, 000. They told me that I was going to meet a woman who is pregnant in Russian and I will assist her with domestic chores. They said I will also be working as a stylist in her saloon.
I will pay them that amount since the work is thriving there. I never knew that the lady was neither pregnant nor married. When I got there, it was a different ball game. I was forced to engage in prostitution in Russia which I resisted, I rejected it and told them I will rather go home than sell my body to satisfy one greedy woman.”
She said that in the heat of the scuttle with her assailants, she met a Nigerian in Russia, who introduced her to the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Anti-Human Trafficking Issues, Comrade Solomon Okoduwa, who eventually took the matter up in Nigeria.
“Ever since I came back, the so-called madam has been threatening my life, that I must pay her the money she spent. I want to appreciate Edo State Government which joined to facilitate my return. They have to also assist me, first, to stop the continuous threat of my madam and secondly, to help me to settle down and start up a business to enable me earn a decent living,” she said.
“I sincerely appreciate the state government for the fight against human trafficking. I thank Obaseki for the show of love and care he is giving me. Many girls are still there in Russia now, who do not have the opportunity to come back home; they are suffering, working in cold and risking their lives,” she added.
Comrade Okoduwa, who facilitated the arrest, said the pastor and another woman who is an accomplice have been handed over to the men and officers of Special Investigation Unit attached to the Government House to crack down on traffickers.
Okoduwa said the victim was trafficked three months after Oba Ewuare II invoked curses on human traffickers and neutralised the oath of secrecy. He assured that the victim was free and nothing would happen to her or any other victim, who escapes their snares. He said he was acting in line with Governor Obaseki’s directive to receive, protect and reintegrate victims of human trafficking.