Notorious Edo human trafficker Mama Masha jailed 12 years
Published By: Kazeem Ugbodaga
By Jethro Ibileke
A Benin City, Edo State High Court, presided over by Justice Geraldine Imadegbelo, has sentenced one Mrs. Felicia Osaigbovo, (alias Mama Masha) to 12 years imprisonment for offences bothering human trafficking.
The convict, described as a notorious international human trafficker, was also fined ₦24 million by the Court.
Mama Masha who lives at Okuarobo Street, Off St. Saviour Street in the Upper Sakponba area in Benin, was arraigned on July 1, 2021 on a 24-count charge of assisting the activities of persons engaged in acts of trafficking in persons contrary to Section 13(4)c TIPPEA, 2015.
She was also accused of organizing foreign travels to Belgium for 12 victims for the purpose of prostitution contrary to Section 18 of TIPPEA, 2015.
While the convict pleaded not guilty to all the counts, the prosecution however called three witnesses, including a Belgian police officer, Mr. Jimmy Wellem Hendrik who flew in from Brussels on 31 May, 2023, to testify.
Hendrik told the court that three of the woman’s children, namely, Aigbe Egberanmen who was sentenced to six years would have to cough out €108,000 while Aigbe Daniel who was fined €108,000 was jailed for five years and another brother, Osaigbovo Nathaniel bagged five years imprisonment and a fine of €48,000.
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They were all sentenced in Belgium.
The Belgian policeman said that the suspect could have been tried in absentia in Belgium based on the overwhelming evidence sourced from the several victims who escaped from the prostitution ring and officially told stories of how Mrs. Osaigbovo, who also goes by the nickname ‘Mama of Juliet’ recruited them in Benin City and took them to Europe for sexual exploitation and prostitution.
The Belgian who was cross-examined by the counsel to the defendant painted a graphic picture of how Nigerian girls who were recruited to Belgium and other European countries, dressed almost naked, standing right by their windows and in private clubs, soliciting for customers.
The age of the victims numbering 24 ranges from 14 to 23 and were trafficked in March 2015 by Mama Masha from Benin to her children, Juliet Egberanmwen Aigbe and Osaigbovo Nathaniel based in Antwerp, Belgium for prostitution.
The Belgian detective defended his Nigerian trip, insisting that human trafficking does not end in Belgium and Europe and so must be tackled from the roots whether in Nigeria or elsewhere, adding that the young victims who were rescued had been resettled and were now engaged in legitimate businesses in Belgium.
The prosecution also tendered 13 exhibits in the cause of trial.
Delivering judgement, Justice Geraldine Imadegbelo found the convict guilty of all 24 counts and sentenced her to 12 years imprisonment and a fine of N24 million.