My Madam Has Refused To Release Me!

I have never risked my life the way I did...

on the 5th of April and the early hours of the 6th of April. The gist is plenty, but I will take this one step at a time. This is going to be a very long read; brace up everyone.

The fun I had in Benin is not for this post, but if you really want to know, wait for my post on Friday.

After visiting the fun places in Benin, I went to see an HIV Patient Bathsheba, I have never really met one or interacted with one in my life, but I met her, I heard her story (she was infected when she was 14 by 3 armed robbers who paid her family a visit and they took turns to rape her) and I was so happy because of this positive attitude towards life that she has. I will share her story next Wednesday. Today, we are going to be reading Bella’s story.

After visiting Bathsheba, I went back to my hotel room. I heard that Bella only comes out for business when it is really late. Blez took me to this place where I had yoghurt and a kind of bread without sugar. When we were done, we went to find Bella.  To read Bella's previous stories, click here and here. That particular place is called Jonquer Mosque and it is very notorious for prostitution; I am sure I counted more than 200 prostitutes on the streets and I am not even joking.

As we walked past, someone just hit me. I didn’t see that one coming at all so I turned to face the girl on golden braids that did that. She accused me of touching her hair and I honestly couldn’t relate at all. At first, I asked her calmly, but when I noticed that she wasn’t ready for calmness, I changed it for her o. I really didn’t know my pidgin English was so good. I spoke Pidgin English, Yoruba, English and Igbo at the same time. I told her that she should better respect herself before I change it for her, I raised my voice at her and I made sure I showed her that looking calm doesn’t mean you can walk over someone. When she saw that a lot of people were against her, she muttered a haphazard sorry. I sha ignored her and we walked past with Blez apologizing to me.

We met Bella, she saw what happened and apologized to me, but I felt I over-reacted. What do you guys think? Back to the matter, I started engaging Bella in a conversation. She is pretty and as slim as I am. I think I’m slimmer though. She was wearing a white bumshort and a turquoise top that was not as revealing as what her peers were wearing and when I looked into her eyes, I could feel her pains.

She complained bitterly of severe pains and she has been drinking agbo (a herbal mixture). She hasn’t visited the hospital since she started this business. Most times, the condoms break. I asked her how many pieces of condoms she was given that night and she said she was given 10 pieces. She said her madam has refused to release her. According to her, her sister has called the madam several times, the Madam claims that she has released her, but she still refused to release her. Her madam is diabolic. You guys know they are not allowed to use phones, right?

We were obviously encroaching in her business time so she politely asked that we come back by 2 am, by then she would be less busy.

By 2 am, Blez and I headed back to the streets without our phones of course and with a pepper spray. It will interest you to know that life begins at Jonquer Mosque by 10pm. At 2am, everywhere was still busy people were still buying and selling; cars were still on the road, the prostitutes were still hustling for customers. Some of them actually wore pant and bra, I am not exaggerating at all.

We looked for Bella for a while and when we found her, we sat with her. She had 2 pieces of condoms left. She told us everything and how she found herself here, how she signed a contract, how powerful the madam is, how she is going to go spiritual, how she desperately wants to leave, how she is tired of selling her body for money, how most of the girls here came there willingly, how her madam is refusing to release her, how her madam is accusing her of stealing from her and so on. She gave us her sister’s number, but I do not think I am going to call her sister because we actually think her sister might put her life in danger. How? Okay, what if her sister is working with the madam? Explain to me how you live in Lagos, Nigeria which is very close to the Benin Republic, you know that your sister’s life is in danger, you know that your sister is losing her mind and her health is even at stake and instead of you to find a way to come to Benin Republic to get her, you in in Lagos telling your sister that the madam has said that she has released her. What nonsense is that? My sister and I have our fights, but you will have to kill me first than to do anything to her, any stupid thing. That’s how much I care about my sister. You see the reason I am not going to call Bella’s sister? I am scared of her implicating Bella. She might be working with the madam. I have told Blez to stay away from Jonquer Mosque for now as his life might be threatened. Bella said some of the girls have been reporting her to the madam because they have seen her with Blez so many times. His life might be in danger too. I apologizing for overusing the word ‘danger’.

While we were still talking a woman was somewhere close shouting ‘Bella, why you no dey hustle?’ and Bella was obviously not ready to talk to her. When we asked her who the lady was, she said the lady is a friend of her madam and she is desperately in need of her own girls. I think she worked for the madam, paid her dues and now she is ready to take over the world as a human trafficker.

Later, the lady walked up to us. she started talking to Bella in Edo, I couldn’t understand the language, but from her mannerism, I could tell that she was asking Bella why Bella was talking to us instead of her to hustle. She said Bella is not allowed to talk to anyone. She wanted to know who we are and when we told her we were Bella’s friends who came to gist with her, she didn’t believe us. She dragged Bella and asked us to leave. We really had to as the atmosphere became toxic. You know everything they say about the streets, I witnessed it firsthand. Kudos to Blez who has been doing this for quite some time.

The girls are not allowed to use phones so it is difficult to see or reach Bella except at night during her business hours. They are given a specific number of condoms and they are expected to use up the pieces of condoms and submit the money to the madam. It is sad to know that these girls collect as low as 1,000 CFA which is like 600 naira and for what exactly?


How far have we gone?


If you are following me on social media, you will know that I shared my experience on my social media platforms. The support we have gotten has been massive. Olachi Opara has been very helpful too, at least, an influencer is on the matter. A Reverend Father reached out to me, he asked for the full story and when I told him, he linked me up with a Reverend Sister who is an anti-trafficking advocate. From there, our story got to another Reverend Sister who is familiar with Jonquer Mosque and everything that goes down there. This sister made me understand that a woman who rescued a victim of trafficking by sending her back to Nigeria was kidnapped by the trafficker. These traffickers have very strong connections and are backed by influential people in society. Our story has gotten to NAPTIP. I was told the new director is very active and helped get some victims who were trapped in Ghana back to Nigeria so I trust that Bella is going to be rescued. For now, we are trying to send someone to reach her. The person will pretend that he is a client, get her full details so she can be found and rescued. Blez has been marked, it is not advisable for him to go there for now.

Also, there is an appointment with NAPTIP on Monday and we have to give them details of the trafficker and Bella. Blez wants to go and get the information from Bella tonight; I honestly don't want him to go. You guys should help me beg him to send someone. He's insisting that nobody will do the job better than him, but his life might be in danger.

A lot of people have warned me about this stuff. Some people even said there are a lot of people suffering in the world and why I have decided to be interested in human trafficking is beyond them. Others have warned me about my constant updates and about how dangerous what we are doing is. Guys, I know this is really dangerous, but it has to be done and the race is not for the faint-hearted. Also, if I do not post, how are people going to be aware of organized crime? You don’t have to support what we are doing, you can just keep mute and try to tone it down with the negative energy because I do not think I am going to rest until that girl is rescued. We want her out of there and I don’t see how that is a bad thing.

For those of you asking me to tell you guys about what happened, this is the scary and heartbreaking part I was talking about. I meant it when I said it’s not a chatting thing, it really isn’t. I have typed over 1,500 words and counting. Bella is going to be rescued for sure.
To everyone who shared the post, to everyone who dropped one or two words of encouragement, you do not know what it means to us. We are very grateful.

My name is Gift Wogu. I am a blogger, an author, a gender and anti-human trafficking activist. I have a novel on human trafficking which is available in print and on www.okadabooks.com. You can click on this link to buy.

Blez Inyang is a convener of BlezInyang’s foundation which creates awareness on HIV and Human Trafficking in Nigeria and Benin Republic. He is a lecturer in a University at the Benin Republic and he lives in the Benin Republic. I am collaborating with his foundation and his foundation invited me over to the Benin Republic and sponsored my trip. They also took care of me very well. Though my life was at risk, I still had a good time. I should tell you guys about all the fun I had on Friday.

If you have a comment, kindly leave a comment. I am always there, waiting for your comments. Please, share this link to your friends and subscribe to my blog so you can be aware when I publish my next post. We are planning a trip to Togo soon, who is interested?

Comments

  1. Hmmmmmm.... This is scary already. We'll keep praying for you guys. Because this matter is serious and risky. I pray everything works out for good. And God bless and strengthen people like you that devote their time and risk their life's for others. This is one of the most courageous and bold steps anyone can take. And you should probably tone down your reactions to people like that (prostitutes) their traffickers might be watching and also since your working towards getting them off the street. You have to learn to tolerate their behaviors.
    Good work you guys are doing.
    God will bless and reward you guys. And keep you people safe. And for blez hmmmm for me he shouldn't go for now since Hus been marked but if he insist on going he could disguise himself. And act like a client so they could talk in private. Bravo guys bravo!!!!💞💝🙌👏

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awwwwn! Thanks a lot dear. Your detailed response means a lot to us.

      Delete
  2. Yeah I think disguising as a client is best. He has the choice of taking her to a place free from the eyes of her madam's friend at least. Nice. Well done Gift!

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    Replies
    1. That's the plan. We really need the information from her.

      Delete
  3. What you are doing is really brave. I pray you guys get all the support you need and Bella and other girls like her get help.

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  4. My bones are beginning to be weary but I have decided to feed them with calcium because as you said, this task of yours is not for the faint.

    I would recommend more tactfulness from now, try as much as is possible to be far from harms way.
    God bless your team

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot dear. Thanks for always supporting.

      Delete
  5. Hmm well done dear, I won't lie I'm scared for you two, but I believe God has got you all, keep working please be safe, more tactfulness, one day things would get better.
    I'm glad to have known you dear❤️❤️

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  6. Well this messed up, I really love what you doing.
    I wish I can render help in someway

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you dear. If you want to help, you can tell me how you intend to.

      Delete
  7. You're doing a great job Gift, but be careful so you don't put yourself in any danger.

    ReplyDelete

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