German police arrest Nigerians for smuggling in women and forcing them into prostitution

Police have detained six Nigerian in Ruhrgebiet who they allege have smuggled women into the country and forced them into prostitution.

The police in the West German city of Oberhausen have arrested a couple from Nigeria who they alleged have smuggled women from Nigeria into the Ruhr area (Ruhrgebiet) in order to force them into prostitution. Also four more suspects from Nigeria have been apprehended in the operation.

Investigators from the Oberhausen police have been gathering evidence against the couple for several months, according to the RP ONLINE report. They were suspected of organized trafficking in human beings. The 32-year-old woman and her 25-year-old male accomplice are said to have specifically recruited women in Nigeria and brought them into the Ruhr area via Italy.

The suspects then put massive pressure on the trafficked women and forced them to prostitute themselves. According to the police, the couple used juju, the widespread belief in witchcraft in Africa, to force the women to do their bidding.

The investigators finally struck in the early morning of last Wednesday. They searched apartments in Dortmund, MĂĽlheim and Essen and arrested six people. The two main suspects were taken into custody. Both were presented to a magistrate last Thursday for preliminary hearings.

Four more Nigerians were also arrested in the police crackdown. A 41-year old woman and a 23 year-old man are accused of involvement in the crime. Two others – both men, 19 and 26, are being investigated for a possible violation of Germany’s Residence Act.

All the accused are expected to be charged to court soon.

According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, more than nine in 10 Nigerian women smuggled to Europe come from Edo, a state with a population of 3 million.

Traffickers exploit Europe’s migration crisis, moving girls to lawless Libya, before crossing the Mediterranean to Italy, anti-slavery activists say.

Juju is a potent ingredient in a cocktail of coercion that keeps thousands of Nigerian women and girls in sex slavery in Europe, mostly in Italy, after making the treacherous journey across North Africa and the Mediterranean in search of better lives.

Combined with crippling debt and threats of violence, it helps perpetuate a cycle of exploitation, police and rights groups say.

Austin Ohaegbu

READ ALSO Nigeria’s Edo State gets tough, to jail human traffickers 


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