Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
A Nigerian lady who was trafficked to Saudi Arabia, on Thursday, narrated her ordeal in the hands of her trafficker and employer in Saudi Arabia.
The veiled lady briefed journalists at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the presence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, and the Director General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Julie Okah-Donli.
Onyeama said the issue of human trafficking had really been an unacceptable part of modern life, one that had a very serious and very negative impact on the country and Nigerians in particular.
“We just sent a team to Saudi Arabia that returned sometime ago and the report has just been prepared. We see that this is a real scourge that is all too pervasive now in our society and a lot of work is being done,” Onyeama said.
Onyeama commended Okah-Donli for the excellent work her team was doing, adding that human trafficking was about trafficking beyond the borders of Nigeria, while also noting some cases of internal trafficking in the country.
On her part, the trafficked lady said her ordeal began when her friend in Oman contacted her and said she was in Dubai, adding that since she was jobless in Nigeria, she asked her friend what assistance she could render her.
Her friend, she added, introduced her to an agent in Abuja who took her to a hospital owned by Dr Hassan for medical test.
“They promised me that I would go to Saudi to work as a sales agent and I would be earning like 1,500 riyal which is equivalent N150,000.
“So, everything was processed and I got into Saudi with the hope of going to be a sales agent there.
“When I got to Saudi, it was a different thing entirely. I was taken to a particular home, my passport was collected from me and I started work. I called my friend; I told her this is a different thing entirely.
“I am in a home working as housemaid. She said that I should just play along with them, that that is what they are doing there. I was like, ‘why didn’t you tell me this beforehand?’
“She said that there is nothing she could do, that I was already in Saudi, I should just play along.
“I was ill for four days and my boss took me back to the agent’s office where I was taken to another place and I was later taken to another house.
“So, when I got to the house, the job was too much. I usually wake up 5am and sleep around 10pm at night. There is no rest, there is nothing.
“There is no break, nothing! I work endlessly from morning till night. It got to a stage that I was depressed because I don’t go out.
“I wasn’t even with my phone for the first few months when I got there. I don’t go out, I don’t do anything. I was really, really depressed.
“All the thoughts that came into my mind was just to commit suicide, was just to do bad things just to harm myself,” she said.
Speaking further, the trafficked lady said she complained to her friend who led her to Saudi, but because she was expected to receive her three months salary, she encouraged her to persevere.
“Because she was the one that sponsored me to Saudi, I was going to pay her three months of my salary. So, because of the salary she wanted to collect from me, she said I should be calm, that there is nothing that could be done about it.
“I should just be calm and that I am supposed to stay for two years before coming home.
“I called my boss and said I could no longer continue on the job and that my health was already deteriorating. I could no longer stand upright, I could no longer breath very well; in fact, I wasn’t myself.
“So, I told my boss that I wanted to go back to Nigeria. She said if I want to go back to Nigeria, I was going to pay him 18,000 riyal which is equivalent to N1.7 million,” she added.
The trafficked lady said her boss’ insistence that she was going to work for her for two years if unable to pay the said amount moved her to contact a journalist friend who in turn, contacted NAPTIP.
While calling on the Federal Government to assist Nigerian ladies in similar situations in Saudi, the trafficked lady said the Saudi experience was tough, saying that some Nigerians girls were sexually molested.
She added that while working with her boss, she suffered physical torture in the hands of her boss and family who used to beat her for insisting on returning home.
In her earlier remarks, Okah-Donli said the return of the trafficked lady was the outcome of its earlier complaint to Onyeama who set up a team comprising officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and NAPTIP.
“We are pleased to report to you that one of the victims is back in Nigeria and she is here with us now and she is ready to share her experience,” Okah-Donli said.