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Exclusive: Nigeria’s Anti-Child Trafficking Agency, NAPTIP, Secret Police Unlawfully Detain 66-year-old Woman For 11 Days At Lagos Airport For Bearing Same Name With Wanted Person

The woman was stopped from boarding a Dubai-bound flight at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, on February 4 this year while going to visit her daughter, who recently had a baby.

A 66-year-old woman, Bolanle Adeoye, from Ibadan, Oyo State, has been stopped from travelling to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, by officials of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and personnel of the Department of State Services.


The woman was stopped from boarding a Dubai-bound flight at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, on February 4 this year while going to visit her daughter, who recently had a baby.


Adeoye was denied from taking the trip and was further subjected to psychological and emotional trauma for simply bearing the same name with a wanted person on NAPTIP’s watch list.


Since being stopped from travelling to Dubai earlier this month, the 66-year-old woman has been left confused on what her fate is.


The Ibadan-based woman’s ordeal began in 2018 when she first visited her daughter in Dubai and was returning to Nigeria weeks later.


She was held by DSS officials at the time for bearing the same name with a notorious child trafficker they had been searching for since 2010.


After being grilled at the airport by some personnel of the secret police, Adeoye was thereafter moved to NAPTIP office in Lagos for further interrogation and traumatising treatment.


She was accused of escaping from police custody in 2010 before later trafficking two young ladies to Lebanon that same year.


All explanations the woman gave to prove her innocence were rubbished and ignored by NAPTIP officials, who soon seized her travel documents before ordering DSS to detain her.


For the next 11 days that followed, Adeoye was held in a dingy cell at a DSS facility in Ikoyi, Lagos, totally cut off from her children and other family members.


A high blood pressure patient, the 66-year-old woman was denied access to her medications throughout that period by DSS officials, who relentlessly subjected her to psychological torture.


She is lucky to be alive to tell her story.


“I was held for 11 days, wearing only one cloth throughout that period in 2018 after DSS arrested me on my way back from Dubai at the airport in Lagos for bearing same name with a wanted human trafficker,” the distraught woman told SaharaReporters, almost breaking down in tears. “When we got to NAPTIP, it was discovered that DSS officials had changed the statement I gave. They presented another indicating that I admitted to being a human trafficker, that I indeed took two girls to Lebanon.


“While being held at the DSS facility, I was not allowed to use my high blood pressure drugs despite how bad my health was at the time. I appealed to them to allow me speak with my children; they told me that I would be informed whenever any of them visited but they never did. Meanwhile, my children came to that place every day but they prevented them from seeing me, making me think that my family had abandoned me.


“One of the DSS commanders even told me to prepare to go to jail, that prison was meant for humans and that I should not be afraid, that my children would wait for me while I served my jail term. He said these words to me despite not committing any crime.


“DSS officials constantly asked me how I escaped from police custody in 2010 but I explained to them that I was never involved in any police case. I sold food at the time at Ring Road in Ibadan, I asked them to go and find out about me from people in that area but they were not interested in what I was saying; they insisted that I escaped from police custody.


“They confirmed that even though I shared same name with the person they were looking for, our cities of residence were different. I asked them to check my signature and thumbprint to confirm that I was not the one they were looking for but they declined.


“They asked me what I went to do at Lebanon, how I got to America, Ghana and London. I told them I had never been to those places but they didn’t listen to me.


“Later, one of the ladies I was accused of trafficking to Lebanon was contacted and she told NAPTIP officials that I was not the one that was taking them out of Nigeria when they were arrested, that the person was a man and not a woman. She told them that she had never met or seen me before.


“I was later released on bail after 11 days of trauma and mental torture for committing no offence.


“After one year and a half, I was contacted to come for my passport, that I was not the one they were looking for. They told me that I won’t be stopped again at the airport whenever I wanted to travel.


“After that saga, I visited my children in Dubai and spent three months with them,” she added.


But if Adeoye thought that her bitter ordeal at the hands of NAPTIP and DSS officials was over after that traumatic experience, she was wrong.


Apart from being held again by the secret police at the Lagos airport earlier this month (February) on her way to visit her daughter in Dubai, NAPTIP officials further humiliated and traumatised her for the same reason they held her three years ago, for which she was later absolved.


Her name is yet to be removed from the agency’s watch list despite investigation revealing that she was not the one wanted for child trafficking by NAPTIP.


“Recently, my daughter gave birth in Dubai and I was going to visit them on February 4 when the DSS stopped me at the airport again. I was taken to NAPTIP where they confirmed again that I was not the one they were looking for because their investigation revealed that I indeed had no passport as at 2010.


“Despite that confirmation from NAPTIP officials, the agency is yet to remove my name from their watch list. They pleaded with me not to be angry, that the person who handled my case previously did not close it well. They blamed the delay in concluding my case to the unavailability of their director-general at the time to attend to my file.


“I was asked to go, that I would be contacted in a few days to come for my passport. But since February 4, I have waiting for their call.


“My luggage containing perishable items is still at the DSS office. The COVID-19 test I did for N45,000, which lasts for 48, hours expired in the process. I have been spending a lot of money on hotel accommodation in Lagos thinking the matter would be resolved within days but that has not been the case.


“I am being punished for committing no offence, for simply bearing the name of a person they are looking for. I don’t know how long more my health can take this pressure and trauma they have put me through before something bad happens,” she said.


NAPTIP spokesperson, Adekoye Vincent, when contacted by SaharaReporters over the matter on Tuesday, said that he had yet to be briefed on the development but that he would follow it up immediately to ensure that the right thing was done.


According to him, the Director-General of the agency, Dr Fatima Waziri, frowned on any act that may breach the fundamental rights of Nigerians and therefore will ensure that Adeoye’s case is promptly attended to for the sake of fairness and justice.