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Sex traffickers used black magic to control their victim

July 30, 2014 · 

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Three members of an organised crime group were jailed today for their roles in the trafficking of a young woman who was threatened with ‘the curse of JuJu’.

The woman, who was 23 at the time, told an Old Bailey jury how sex traffickers in Nigeria first befriended, then raped and trafficked her while intimidating her and her family.

Olusoji Oluwafemi

The traffickers, who had links with other crime groups in Nigeria and Italy, used a recruiter known as Beneditta to target vulnerable young women who were financially and educationally poor and were often orphans. She would befriend them and tell them of a better life where they could learn English and become hairdressers, seamstresses or nurses.

The victim, from a remote area of Nigeria, also told the jury how Beneditta promised her training as a nurse. Instead she was raped and subjected to the African ritual of JuJu to frighten her into compliance. Her traffickers said she owed them £40,000 and would face the ‘curse of the JuJu’ if she didn’t repay them.

Olusoji Oluwafemi, aged 44, of Rotherhithe New Road, London, Johnson Olayinka, aged 49, of Kelly Avenue, Peckham, and Florence Obadiaru, aged 48, of St Asaph Road, London, were found guilty of trafficking human beings in and out of the UK. Oluwafemi was sentenced to six and a half years, Olayinka received four and a half years and Obadiaru was jailed for two years.

Oluwafemi and Olayinka were also sentenced to serve three years each for identity fraud, to run concurrently with the trafficking offence sentence. Olayinka will be deported to Nigeria once his sentence has been served.

Oluwafemi, who was the main organiser in this country, was responsible for making arrangements for the victim’s transit through the UK to Italy.

On 3 October 2011 the victim was taken to an airport, given a false passport in the name of Jacky Smith, and told to board a flight to Milan where she would be forced to work as a prostitute. The Italian authorities refused her entry and she was sent back to the UK where she ‘was so frightened’ she initially gave the authorities her false Nigerian details.

After arriving in the UK in September 2011, she was met at the airport by Johnson Olayinka and forced to hand over her false Nigerian passport and £500 given to her by Beneditta. She was imprisoned for three weeks at the home of Florence Obadiaru, a third member of the crime group.

Specialists from the National Crime Agency, including the Vulnerable Persons Team which is skilled in working with trafficking victims, interviewed her and secured sufficient evidence to track down and arrest members of the crime group.

During searches of Oluwafemi’s home in May 2013, investigators seized computers showing over 60 images of fake passports, identity cards and Home Office letters which formed part of a ready made ‘forgery factory’.

Analysis of mobile phone data was critical to the success of the investigation as it supported the victim’s account of her ordeal. Investigators were able to evidence that members of the crime group were in contact with each other at key times and links to Beneditta in Nigeria.

Brendan Foreman, NCA Regional Head of Investigations, said:

“Human trafficking is modern day slavery and today’s result shows the vital importance of victims coming forward. The NCA’s skilled investigators will find the evidence to bring traffickers to court, and our expert teams will work side by side with vulnerable victims to ensure that the court process doesn’t add to the trauma they have already experienced.

“This victim was extremely brave, not only by going to the authorities but also facing her traffickers in the courtroom. Her evidence during this trial means these criminals now have plenty of time to reflect on how it feels to lose their own dignity and freedom.” “Criminals will sell anything, including human beings, to make money. They have neither conscience nor moral code towards their victims and will attempt to strip them of their dignity and freedom through fear and violence.

Since coming forward, the victim has received the appropriate protection and support after going through the National Referral Mechanism which is a framework for identifying victims of human trafficking.

The NCA investigation into Nigerian-based members of the organised crime group is ongoing.

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