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Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo of the Federal High Court in Lagos has sentenced two human traffickers to 12 years imprisonment for promoting prostitution.

The female convicts, Terry Homuere-Smooth and Priscilla Effiong, were sentenced after the court found them guilty of the two counts preferred against them by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons.

The prosecutor, Sebol Langyi, had told the court when the convicts were arraigned in November 2015 that they organised and promoted foreign prostitution, adding that they exported one Chisom, aka Gold, to Dubai, the United Arab Emirates for prostitution.

The offences, according to Langyi, are contrary to and punishable under sections 14 (b) and 18 of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015.

Chisom had during the trial told the court that the convicts, after taking her to Dubai, forced her into prostitution, took her nude pictures and asked her to swear to an oath that she would pay some amount to their agents in Dubai otherwise; they would post her nude pictures online.

She added that when she could not raise the money they asked for, the convicts posted her nude pictures online as they had threatened.

The victim stated that it was when the pictures went viral that the NAPTIP intervened and the two convicts were arrested.

Delivering her judgment on Tuesday, Justice Oguntoyinbo held that the prosecution had been able to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt against the defendants and she consequently pronounced them guilty.

Mrs James Ezeomakorie and Mrs Doyin Rhode-Vivours, counsel for Homuere-Smooth and Effiong, respectively, in their allocutus, urged the court to temper justice with mercy, adding that they were first time offenders, who had showed great remorse during their detention.

Sentencing the convicts, Justice Oguntoyinbo said, “I have listened to the allocutus made by the counsels for the defendants. However, the minimum punishment for count one is seven years imprisonment with a fine of N1m, while the minimum punishment for the second count is five years.

“In the light of the above, I hereby sentence the first and second defendants to seven years imprisonment on count one with N1m fine, and five years on count two.

“The terms of the sentence are to run concurrently and without an option of fine.”

The charges the convicts were arraigned on read in part, “That you, Terry Homuere-Smooth and Priscilla Bassey Effiong, one Bella (at large) and one Gloria (at large) on or about July 2015 at Ajah, Lagos, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, organised and facilitated foreign travel, which promotes prostitution for Chisom (aka Gold) to Dubai, thereby committing an offence contrary to Section 18 of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015, and punishable under the same section of the Act.”

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