The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons has been accused of covering up a case of a 25-year-old woman, Happiness Dauda, who was brutally beaten and locked up inside the toilet on May 13 by her 36-year-old employer, Binta Aminu, who accused her of stealing her mobile phone.
Dauda, who maintained that she knew nothing about the missing phone, disclosed that Aminu kept hitting her with a mopping stick, wire and mortar pestle until she became unconscious.
She said her boss threatened to kill her with a witch doctor and later forced her to confess to stealing the phone under duress.
The incident resulted in her hospitalisation for over a month at the Wuse General Hospital in Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital.
SaharaReporters gathered the case was reported to NAPTIP on May 23 but two months after Aminu is yet to appear in court even though the agency filed a case on June 23.
According to the victim and her lawyer, Ejembi Ekon, there have been attempted moves by NAPTIP officials to upturn the investigation.
One of the victim’s relatives, David Dogo, who officially reported the case to NAPTIP, said he had reached out to the agency several times to verify the particulars of the case with no response.
The lawyer also confirmed that his consummated letter requesting for an update was never replied.
In June, after the victim regained consciousness at Wuse General Hospital where she was admitted, one Mr Magnus, an official of NAPTIP handling the case got into an altercation with a journalist, who was in the hospital to interview the victim.
Magnus threatened to throw out the case if the victim decided to go on with the interview.
His action at the hospital and the lack of response by NAPTIP to enquiries about the case confirmed the suspicion of compromise on the matter.
"That a criminal matter was filed in June by a government agency without the case being expeditiously assigned and the accused arraigned, indicates an evidence of compromise.
“Moreso, the notice of the case that was filed in court since June 23 was not disclosed to the victim and her lawyer until July 17 after SaharaReporters published the story,” Barrister Eko said.
When contacted by SaharaReporters, Magnus declined response to questions regarding the allegations by the victim and her lawyer.
Principal legal officer at NAPTIP headquarters, Ja'Afaru Ayitogo, told SaharaReporters that the fault was from the court.
She confirmed September 10 as the date for arraignment as courts in the country were presently on vacation.
But Ekon disagreed with her, explaining that the physiology of the whole drama by NAPTIP was to frustrate the case from being heard by the court.
"The reason EFCC and every other government agency could have a matter filed today assigned the same day or next is because criminal matters from government agencies are always expeditiously assigned to a court and the arraignment of the accused is done immediately when the prosecution team is diligent,” he said.
He also said that because of the sensitivity of the case, NAPTIP could write for the matter to be heard by a vacation judge even though courts were on vacation.