Cablegate: Anti-Trafficking Agency Arrests and Displays Two

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.



E.O. 12958: N/A


1. Summary. At a press conference on August 10, Nigeria's
anti-trafficking agency announced the arrests of two "juju
men" (practitioners of fetish magic). The two juju men were
used to facilitate prostitution and trafficking by scaring
victims to silence. The following week, the agency
announced the arrests of two accused traffickers. End

2. The National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in
Persons and Other Related Matters (NAPTIP) held a press
conference on August 10 to announce the arrests of two "juju
men" (practitioners of fetish magic) who allegedly engaged
in recruiting victims of human trafficking in Edo State.
Besides the assembled media, NAPTIP invited representatives
of the US and Japanese embassies, along with the anti-
trafficking program heads of the International Labor
Organization (ILO) and United Nations Office on Drugs and
Crime (UNODC).

3. The juju men are being held by NAPTIP as prosecution
witnesses, which NAPTIP hopes will puncture the myth of
juju. Trafficking victims rarely agree to testify against
their traffickers, because of juju oaths of silence they
have taken, the violation of which would result in their
deaths (reftel). A NAPTIP spokesman said that seeing the
juju men in custody might encourage victims to break their
oaths and speak out.

4. The two juju men, Prince Omoruyi of Ehengbuda shrine and
Goddy Akhimeon of Uromi, were brought into the press
conference and asked by NAPTIP's head of investigation to
describe the items on display, which had been confiscated
from their shrines. Clippings of women's pubic hair and
fingernails would be kept in the shrine until the "curse"
was lifted. The juju men explained that they "blessed" the
semen of male customers of prostitutes in order to prevent
the transmission of AIDS; a pile of semen-stained tissues
was displayed among the evidence. Both juju men kept
diaries containing names, dates, and countries where women
were trafficked. One juju man showed an oracle guide he
used to "bless" women that they do well as prostitutes in
Western Europe, well enough "to marry white men." Dozens of
photos of trafficked women were on display; media were
requested not to retransmit any of the victims' images.

5. NAPTIP's head of investigation specifically mentioned
the USG, telling Poloff before the assembled media that the
USG should look at NAPTIP's prosecution of the juju men as a
"best practices" model. He said that the two cases would be
filed in Benin City, Edo State, where the juju men were

6. He also stated that investigation is capital intensive,
requiring significant travel by investigators both inside
Nigeria and abroad. He announced to the press that NAPTIP
works together with the "anti-mafia bureau" in Italy, which
shares information with NAPTIP, and with the USG, which had
helped to fund "sensitization tours" to eleven southern

7. The following week, NAPTIP announced the arrests of two
Edo State residents for trafficking. A NAPTIP spokesman
told Poloff that one female trafficker had brought three
women to Cotonou, Benin, by promising them jobs in Italy,
then left them to support themselves through prostitution
and returned to Edo State to get more women. The group in
Cotonou refused to engage in prostitution, forcing the
"madam" to return to Benin, where she reported to the
Nigerian Embassy in Cotonou that "her girls were
misbehaving." The Embassy suspected trafficking and
contacted NAPTIP, who arrested the woman, along with her
Nigerian partner. The spokesman told Poloff a conviction is
"near certain" with the evidence and victims' testimony.

8. Comment: Nothing is certain with the Nigerian
judiciary, however, except that the pace of justice is very
slow. While the arrests show some good efforts on the part
of the GON, it remains to be seen whether those efforts will
be translated into results, in the form of convictions. End


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