The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has secured the conviction of a well-known socialite in Benin City and high-profile trafficker, Felicia Osaigbovo, also known as Mama Masha.
Mama Masha was sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined N24 million by Hon. Justice Geraldine Imadegbelo of the High Court, Criminal Division, Benin City.
According to a statement on Tuesday by the spokesman of NAPTIP, Vincent Adekoye, the 62-year-old woman, is a member of a human trafficking syndicate, and was involved in the recruitment and trafficking of 12 Nigerian girls to Belgium for sexual exploitation.
He said notably, 12 collaborators, including three of the convict’s children, have already been convicted in Belgium.
The case against the convict commenced on July 1, 2021, with a 24-count charge that included assisting the activities of persons engaged in trafficking in persons and organizing foreign travels that promote prostitution, in violation of the Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Enforcement and Administration Act (TIPPEA), 2015.
Mama Masha was said to have pleaded not guilty to all counts. The statement said the prosecution presented three witnesses, including a Belgian Chief Inspector of Police and submitted 13 exhibits as evidence.
Following a thorough trial, the court found the convict guilty on all 24 counts, leading to a sentence of 12 years in prison and a fine of N24 million.
In response to the judgment, Director General of NAPTIP, Prof. Fatima Waziri–Azi, PhD expressed her appreciation for the verdict by the judiciary, emphasizing that it represents an appropriate and significant punishment. She lauded the collaborative efforts of the Belgium Police Authorities, the Federal Ministry of Justice, the UK National Crime Agency under the Joint Border Task Force Initiative, and UNODC in ensuring justice for the victims.
Upon assuming office in September 2021, the Director General pledged to pursue high-profile traffickers vigorously. This conviction underscores NAPTIP’s determination to send a clear message to those involved in this heinous crime.
She said: “NAPTIP shall continue working tirelessly to ensure a safer and better society.”