By Gift Habib
Her dream of furthering her education and becoming an entrepreneur became a nightmare when she crossed paths with traffickers who disguised themselves as destiny helpers.
Tereta Princess, a young, energetic and ambitious lady in her quest to double her hustling life while in higher institution to cater for her child whom she had before gaining admission as well as her siblings and her mum became the bait that was used in luring her into slavery.
Gifted in event management and catering services, Princess in the course of her hustling met a friend (name withheld) whom both sold ice blocks and ice cubes for three years before she was introduced to her friend’s elder brother’s friend who came back from Germany.
“My friend’s elder brother, who became my friend as well has been seeing some of my works like hair making, baking, decoration and event management. He said he was going to do his hotel opening and he wanted me to plan and execute the event which I did.
“So in that party, he introduced me to one of his friends that just came back from Germany who became a very close friend and a trusted one to me,” she said.
Very passionate about education, Princess was told by her trusted friend to take advantage of a traveling opportunity that doubles her the chance of going to school and work in Malaysia. He promised to help her finance the process and link her up with an investor.
He however made “me promise not to tell anyone until I get there” which is one of their tricking languages used to lure their victims.
After thinking of the juicy offer, she decided to embark on the journey without her child and not telling her people. Getting into the journey alongside other young chaps in 2015, she said “the desert was death sentence. When we got to Dukuru, I became nervous because the journey does not look like a journey where we will be taking flight as told. I remembered going on my knees telling God that I might have taken decisions out of ignorance and fear but Lord, I am asking you to help me go through the journey and come back in peace because at that point, I know i was in a place of no return.
“So I took the effort of asking one Mallam in charge of the journey to where we were. He saw me in tears and I said, baba please take me as your child. I do not know where I am, if you know anything about where I am, pls tell me. He said two words; he said he is not in the right place to tell me and I should pray to God to keep me alive to go back home if I want to go home.”
Going into the desert and getting to Agades in Niger Republic, Princess realized the true situation of things which soaked her in pain and tears.
“I eavesdropped everyone that was communicating around me and I heard a whole lot. Some said we are going to Libya, Italy. They told me is Malaysia, Dubai. Some said they told them that they will do house helps, sales girls. I was speechless because there was nothing I could do because it was a place of no return. I cried throughout that night.
“I felt within myself that my energy will be wasted because I have sold sachet water, boiled eggs, made table clothes. So if I could do all that, why would I leave Nigeria and go to Libya to do God knows what. So when I heard that it was prostitution that I will be doing in a connection house, it got to me deeply,” she said.
Explaining the processes in which ladies are bought into trafficking, Princess said “At that point, i walked up to the man that was contributing clothes, garri, etc. I said Oga pls, what will it take me to go back home. He said your burger already knows that you are here. The burger means the person who pays for you to be brought to them. So the connection is a thrill, the burger is the person in the post country and then you have a travel agent and then you have another sub agent. The sub agent looks for the victim, sends to the other agent and then the other agent trafficked you to the burger.
“He said, firstly, if your burger does not know that you are here, it is a different case but he knows that you are here. Secondly, if you decide to pay and go back, they will collect the money and claim that they did not see it. Another case is that if they decide to take you along, you will get to a place you don’t know and they will sell you to a place you will never come back. He just got me to pray that God takes me to where am going to and that my burger should not be a bad person.
Getting to Sabha in Libya for three weeks and five days, they were three hundred in number and kept in two rooms and were poorly fed. Getting to Libya, I was shocked and curious to find out why people would not do another business than to buy ladies, take them to connection houses and exploit them. I got beaten like a mad dog until I began to bend like an old woman. My burger got to know that i contacted a Nigeria embassy and was beaten black and blue for a week.
Explaining the aftermath of the whole scenario, she said “I was strong enough to come back but two things kept me going; who I really want to be in life and the fact that I will use my testimony to change my change. I belong to an association female returnees forum of Nigeria where we welcome female returnees, give them mental health and psychological support.”
She therefore advised parents to be closer to their children and shower them with love which should not be gotten outside.