- After going missing for two months, a 14-year-old schoolgirl, Risikatu Uthman, has safely returned home
- Riskatu said that she was kidnapped and trafficked to Burkina Faso for prostitution by a vigilante operative, Rasheed Salau, on her way home from her boyfriend's place in June 2018, in Lagos
- The state police public relations officer, CSP Chike Oti, said that Salau has been arrested and kept in custody alongside his accomplices
A 14-year-old student of a public secondary school in the Ikorodu area of Lagos state, Risikatu Uthman, who went missing in June 2018, has been found.
Risikatu, who was abducted by human traffickers and sold to Burkina Faso for prostitution, returned home on Thursday, August 9.
Punch reported that before her abduction, Risikatu had gone out with her boyfriend (now in police custody) and never came back until recently.
She was was brought home by a Good Samaritan, who reportedly found her roaming in Cotonou, Benin Republic. Speaking with security officials, Risikatu alleged that a policeman, known as Rasheed, kidnapped her on her way home from her boyfriend's place.
She stated: “I was returning home on a motorcycle when the man stopped me on the road. “He said I should follow him, that he had something important to discuss with me. I told him that I was running late and my parents would be worried. He insisted that I followed him and I did.
“When we got to his house at Odo Kekere, Ikorodu, I saw eight other young girls in a room. Immediately I entered, somebody locked the door from behind and nobody could go out.
“Rasheed told me that he was a policeman and he showed me his ID card. I also saw his uniform in the room. He told me that he was taking me out of the country and I would be involved in selling goods for someone. He did not tell me the country.”
She revealed that she spent two weeks in the house with the other girls, adding that Rasheed’s mother, who was a big shot in Burkina Faso, took her details to procure a passport for her.
Risikatu stated: “After two weeks, we were taken to Shaki, Oyo State. We were taken to the house of a man called Taofeek. We were paired; each group was put in a room. While there, I feel ill and almost died. I was taken to a hospital for treatment. A doctor also visited me in the room.”
Having spent a month in Shaki, Risikatu said that they were put in a bus en route to Burkina Faso, adding that they spent four days on the road before they arrived at their destination.
“We moved on Monday and got to Galasi, Burkina Faso, on Thursday. The woman came to meet us at the park and took us to her house. We saw other girls, including the ones who had given birth to children, in the house. There were three underage girls in the room as well. We called the woman Mummy.
“On Friday, we cooked and ate. By evening, they said we should take our bath. We were then dressed up in skimpy clothes with a lot of make-up. By then, they had loosened my hair and given me wigs to put on. We went to work and I came back with 6,000 CFA.
“On Saturday, we went to work as well. I made 7,000 CFA. We were given 20 contraceptives per day and mandated to use them all. We were told that if a man’s contraceptive bursts, we should collect 3,000 CFA from him.
“On Sunday, the woman said we would swear to an oath that we would not betray her. We went to an alfa’s house and were called in one by one. I was the first.
“I was made to carry a calabash with some fetish materials in it. The man said I should recite incantation with him, after which he gave me a kola nut and alcohol to drink. But I did not swallow them. I spewed them out when we finished.
“During the oath taking, I was made to swear that I would not betray the woman and I would pay her 1.3m CFA (N815,000). He said I must pay back her money and if I betrayed her, I would be miserable and die,” she added.
She said after they left the cleric’s house, they were asked to dress up as usual and take to the street to look for customers.
Risikatu said: “I had worked for some time and made up to 7,000 CFA when a woman dragged me to a corner and asked if I wanted to stop the work I was doing and I said yes. The lady left me to continue the work.
“Later, I was told that a customer was waiting for me outside. I went outside and the same lady took me to an Igbo man, who was connected to some Nigerian community officials in the country.”
It was said that the police were later informed and the victim rescued. Mummy, upon discovering that Risikatu had been rescued, fled her house with some property.
Risikatu said the police took her to the Nigerian embassy along with four other rescued girls. At the embassy, the officials were said to have identified the 14-year-old, saying they had seen a report by Punch on her.
She was reportedly profiled with the four others as the officials issued them tickets and passports for their travels back to Nigeria.
When a driver conveyed her to Jonte park at Cotonou, Benin Republic, she said she met a trader of Ago Iwoye from Ogun state, who promised to assist her because her (Risikatu’s) mother hailed from the same town.
After hawking chewing-stick with the woman and sleeping at the motor park for two days, she returned home to her parents.
“The way Nigerian girls are treated in Burkina Faso is terrible and it is because we don’t have a good government. I have learnt that if anybody asked me to travel out, I should never follow the person,” she added.
Risikatu said one Basirat, another Ikorodu resident who had been declared missing for some time, was in Burkina Faso. The victim’s mother expressed joy at her return, saying she had gone to different prayer houses in search of a solution.
Newsmen gathered that the case had been reported to the Ikorodu area commander, who ordered a manhunt for the suspects, with Rasheed arrested alongside his accomplices.
Commenting on the development, the state police public relations officer, CSP Chike Oti, said that Rasheed was not a policeman.
He said: “The suspect is a member of the Vigilante Group of Nigeria, Lucky Board chapter, Shagamu Road, Ikorodu. His name is Rasheed Salau and he is undergoing interrogation. Investigation is ongoing into the case.”
Meanwhile, NAIJ.com reported that the police command in Abia had arrested 43 suspects for various criminal offences including kidnapping, armed robbery, murder and defilement, within 40 days.
The commissioner of police, Anthony Ogbizi, disclosed while briefing journalists in Umuahia on the efforts of the command to rid the state of violent crimes.
Ogbizi said that the arrest was a result of efforts by the command to ensure a peaceful and crime-free society.
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