Can you bring good things to Nigeria
NigeriaHuman trafficking in God's name
Doris Ogbeifun stands in front of almost 100 students. The girls and boys are between twelve and 17 years old and attend the Ogwa Grammar School in Edo state in southern Nigeria. At the greeting, Doris Ogbeifun acts like an entertainer and motivates the young Nigerians to clap and ask questions. The participants are relaxed and happy to take part.
Attending school has a serious background. Doris Ogbeifun works for CUSODOW. Behind this is the committee for the support of the dignity of women, which was founded by Catholic nuns. The organization takes care of people who have been victims of human trafficking and provides information about their machinations:
"The human trafficking business has been booming since the late 1980s. Despite all attempts to stop it, the human traffickers are still there. That means that the causes have not yet been eliminated."
There is broad consensus on this today. On the one hand, the state of Edo, where Portuguese traders came as early as the 15th century, has a long tradition of migration. According to different estimates, 40 to 70 percent of all migrants who want to go to North Africa and Europe come from the region. On the other hand, there are no prospects, a lack of jobs and poor infrastructure. Doris Ogbeifun:
"My dear, if people had electricity at home, you can be sure: Nobody would want to go away. If there was electricity, a hairdresser could, for example, dry their hair between 15 and 30 customers a day. The expenses would be low. But What does she have to pay if she buys diesel for her generator every day? If she passes that on to the customers, they'll never come back. That's really true. "
23-year-old Glory also dreamed of a job that would bring money. The slim woman is wearing jeans and a T-shirt and has a nine-year-old son. She lives a good two hours from Edo's capital Benin City and doesn't want to give her real name.
"I was just studying to be a nurse. Then this woman called me because we had known each other before. She asked me if I would like to travel. I was amazed. But she said that she would like to offer me a job. "
These are common tricks used by traffickers. Young women are offered jobs in Germany, Italy or Spain. The travel expenses, it is said, can be processed later. Glory had heard of it long ago, too. But in her case it was different. The caller was, after all, the pastor of an evangelical church in Nigeria. Glory, who is supported by Cusodow today, recalls.
"Since the offer came from the church, I thought: This is a good job. That's why we met in Benin City and went to see another man. He took care of the papers. Everything went through the church, that's the only reason I consented. That's how I ended up in Germany. "
Glory arrived, she says, via Greece with a Schengen visa. When she arrived in Germany, she was forced into prostitution in several brothels in North Rhine-Westphalia. With this, she should process the fictitious travel costs of 50,000 euros:
"When she said 50,000 euros, I still had no sense of it. We have 50,000 naira here. At first I thought it wasn't that much. Only later did I understand how high this sum is."
"Many preachers are involved in human trafficking"
So far, there is little reliable information about the extent to which churches are involved in human trafficking. However, Doris Ogbeifun experiences in her daily work:
"Many preachers, regardless of whether they represent old-established churches or these new churches, such as Pentecostal churches, are involved in human trafficking.
However, they are almost never displayed. In a state in which little works, churches are seen as an identification factor. The greater the shame to have been disappointed by them of all people. There is little trust in Nigerian authorities. The tormentors also exerted great pressure for a long time. Glory remembers when she was picked up by the police in Germany.
"When they arrested me, I called my contact in Nigeria and pleaded: Let me go. I will work and pay the money back. But he said: If I try to escape, they will kill my family and my child."
Therefore, it has so far been impossible for Glory to report the pastor and her middlemen. But there are exceptions: a young woman talked about her pastor and his sister last year. The two of them had sent her to Russia, where, according to various experts, many women are currently going. Her testimony enabled the perpetrators to be arrested. Her church, which is supposed to still exist, cannot be found in Benin City. Nobody wants to know them. However, other churches with numerous flags hanging in front of them are striking. Doris Ogbeifun:
"They stand for the fact that the churches in all these countries have branches. For them they need pastors, mostly women. And the girls get visas for these women. They are told: They should make the churches big. Then they go there but what are you really doing? "
"God send me a visa"
But not only that: A few months ago the evangelical pastor Johnson Suleman advertised with huge posters that read: "Oh Lord, release my visa" - "God, send me a visa". After protests, however, these had to be removed.
In Benin City, however, it is not possible to get into conversation with the pastors. When we try to go to a church - it may not have anything to do with human trafficking - we are watched critically. It was only more than two months later that Felix Omobude, President of the Nigerian Pentecostal Churches, agreed to make a short phone call. He does not comment on the current case because he does not know it. Felix Omobude says:
"The Pentecostal Association in this country is very concerned about the image that illegal migration is giving our country. Together we are working to discourage our people from this journey. They must not allow their children to take such a dangerous journey."
Doris Ogbeifun, however, has had different experiences. She has seen preachers try to get young Nigerians interested in Europe:
"A pastor even approached me once. He asked if I wanted to go to Germany. The church is building a new branch. I was told I could work as a pastor there."
Glory doesn't want to hear any more of such stories. Today she wants a better paying job and hopes to find the right partner to get married with at some point. One thing is very clear: She only wants to build a family in Nigeria, no matter how difficult it is:
"We have to fight here in our homeland. Try to learn a trade, sell something. Anyone who offers you work, even your sister, can lie. As soon as you are there, you have no choice and you are cheated. Thank you God, I didn't get sick. I'm healthy and strong. But many others got sick. So stay here. Look for a job. Don't go to Europe and don't kill yourself. "
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