How my pastor trafficked me to Russia for prostitution
A 17-year-old girl in Edo State was made to take an oath and trafficked to Russia for prostitution by her pastor after he promised to help her and her family get out of poverty and debt.
Plump, beautiful, intelligent and of average height, Miss Florence Abu, while in her senior secondary school stood tall among her peers as one of the brightest brains of her school. She had all the potentials and charisma.
Shortly after school, she had quickly aligned with her mother, Mrs. Josephine Abu, at the Heavenly Ambassadors Ministries Inc. located on the busy Isihor community in Ovia North East council area of Edo State along the Benin-Lagos road within the ancient capital town.
Sadly, her parents had parted ways for years, making life and living more of nightmare. Her mother struggled to make ends meet from the little she could from her petty business.
She was burdened by heavy debts which no one came to her rescue. But with the pressing load, she was moved to cry to the leadership of the Heavenly Ambassadors Ministries Inc, where according to her, one of the presiding pastors, Endurance Ehioze, quickly caught her in the web and promised to help her offload her pain.
The man of God was said to have promised to help her out of the pitiable condition and had quickly sold the idea of linking her Russian based sister with her daughter, so that she could quickly be relieved of the burden of debt staring her family in the face.
The unsuspecting mother had easily yielded into the deadly trap, amid happiness laced with tears of joy. So began the young Abu’s sad journey into the bleakness and unsolicited loss of fortunes laced with inexplicable rituals and life threatening encounters.
Besides, she was made a cash cow for her Madam in Russia at a staggering $45, 000 price tag and was later left to die a pauper on completion of the payment.
The Delta State born Florence Abu narrates her ordeal this way. “It all started in 2012 when a Pastor in my church, Endurance Ehioze of (Heavenly Ambassadors Ministries Inc.) at Isihor to be precise, called me to say he wanted to see me. He asked me if I would like to travel out of the country and I said yes. I told him that I am constrained financially. So, he said money is not the problem but that he has a sister abroad that would finance my trip. He further told me that I can pay off the sister in less than two months, and that is, I shouldn’t be afraid since I am a good singer and hair stylist. He also assured me that I might be lucky to come across a white man that will support me. After that day, he gave me the telephone number of her sister in Russia.
Her name is Vivian Ehioze. When I called her and cut the call, she called me and introduced herself to me. She asked me if I am interested in leaving the country (Nigeria), and she said as long as I am interested, I should get my passport which I did by borrowing N30, 000 from LAPO (Leave Above Poverty Organization), and I called her to tell her that my passport is ready.”
Miss Abu added: “She (Ms Ehioze) asked me to give the passport to Endurance (the brother) that he would handle everything.
The sister often called me to give me words of encouragement that everything will be fine. Few days later, she called again that I should pack my belongings and move to her mother’s place en route to Lagos. So, when I got there, the mother said it was late to travel to Lagos that same day.
The next morning, she woke me up and said there must be agreement between us because many girls when they get to Russia, don’t often pay her daughter back the money spent to take them abroad. So, she said that she must take something from me as an oath and that whenever I finished paying her daughter, I will have to pay her some amount of money as well. I was surprised that Endurance, who is a pastor encouraged me to undertake such oath.
I had thought that as a Christian, we would do it in the Christian way. Finally, the mother took strands of hair from my head, armpit, private part and she also collected my pant for oath taking.”
While in Lagos, Abu explained that, “by the time I arrived Lagos, the next day, the elder brother to my Madam, Festus Ehioze, came to pick me from God Is Good Motors park and took me to a hotel. He brought out a slip of paper from his pocket and said it is my visa and that everything was genuine. He asked me to relax and said that I should use what I have to get what I want. He said his sister is abroad and been molested by people, so, he wants to avenge for her. I was shocked. I even pleaded with him but he refused.
He took my phone according to order from Vivian, so that nobody might discourage me. And I asked him how can I now communicate with my mother and he assured me that Endurance (Pastor) would be the link man if I want to speak to my mother. Immediately, he brought out a gold circle condom that I should pull off my cloth. I resisted him but he forcefully had his way. He said it should be a secret between the two of us and threatened that if I disclosed it to any one, something terrible would happen to me.
He took me to his house and asked me to pretend about it. For the two weeks period I waited for my visa, it was hell for me in the house. He molested me regularly but thankfully my visa came in February 2013.”
Finally, Abu said, “When I arrived in Russia, Vivian came to pick me up at the airport and she took me to her place in Moscow. The first thing she did was to take my passport away from me. She said the passport now belonged to her.
The third day at about 9pm, she asked me to dress up for a walk. She took me on a road walk where I met a lot of Nigerian girls prostituting on the streets and that was how I was lured into prostitution. I started paying the money $45,000 up till the point I finished payment, I was deported back to Nigeria. After I finished paying, I was inflicted by strange illness; life was so unbearable for me and I was placed under medication for almost one year.
The doctors treating me couldn’t handle my case; the doctors said other people with worse health situation were being treated and wondered why my own was different. When I couldn’t bear it, I had to tell my mother about it. It was my mother that used to send me black soap and cream from Nigeria through courier. At a time, it was my mother that sent money to me to pay my house rent. Life there became difficult. So, I had to go to Nigeria authority in Russia before I was deported.”
When asked if she was aware of being trafficked for prostitution, Abu stated that she “was 18 years old then, my madam lied to me that life was far better over there and that if I don’t want to stay in Russia, I can travel to another country. I made all my credits at the ordinary level (School Certificate) but there was no money to further my education. So, when the opportunity came, I jumped at it. Besides, my mum owed a lot of debt. So, I wanted to help her because of the embarrassment. But, what she told me was completely different. I was molested to a point that I fell sick.
I was using gas water because of the chest pain arising from the torture I received from my madam. Sometimes, I would just collapse on the way to church. I was always on drugs. She abandoned me in Russian and came to Nigeria to look for other girls. I couldn’t cope with life. So, I was deported back with other girls who were going through the same situation with me. If it is possible, some of our girls in Russia would trek back home because the suffering there is much. Some of them are beggars there.”
Sober and pained, she advised “young girls that all that glitters are not gold. Yes, abroad is beautiful but if you are going to be trafficked by someone, they should cry out. Life there is not what they paint to you. Most girls have died; a lot of girls out there are dead and their parents might think they are alive. Out of 300 girls deported in the last one year, about 100 of them are HIV positive. Our girls should learn a trade and empowerment skills by themselves.”
She, however, thanked the state Commissioner of Police, (Mr. Haliru Gwandu) “because he has fought for me by apprehending my traffickers (madam and her brother). Also, she thanked Mr. Solomon Okoduwa, the President of Initiative for Youths Awareness, Migration, Immigration, Development and Reintegration (IYAMIDR).
“I came in contact with the NGO through one girl called Gift when we were at the detention centre in Lagos at the NAPTIP centre. He (Okoduwa) has been helping me to resettle and was instrumental to the arrest of my madam.”
In her own account, Florence’s mother, Josephine Abu, who fought fears repeatedly said: “My daughter was assisted to travel through Endurance our church member; he is second in command to the senior Pastor. The suffering was too much for me to bear.
He said since I owe debt that he would help my daughter to travel abroad. Since my daughter travelled, I was paying N1, 300 monthly to LAPO to offset the amount I borrowed to do International passport for her. He (Endurance) assured me that since my daughter is a hair stylist, she would make money in Russia. For long time, I didn’t hear from my daughter until recently when information came that my daughter has been deported.”
Similarly, another victim of prostitution ring to Russia, Miss Naomi Otoijuamu, aged 23, who narrated her ordeal, said, she was also trafficked and lured into the red light business in Russia.
By Cajetan Mmuta/New Telegraph