Two Nigerian girls trafficked to oil-rich Saudi Arabia to work as housemaids have been killed by their respective employers. The killings of the two young women occurred within a space of two weeks in the respective homes where they worked as servants by their Saudi bosses.
The first Nigerian girl to be murdered was by name Omotayo who until her death in June 2018 worked as a migrant domestic worker in Riyadh. She sent this photo to her friends in a group chat called “Strong Nigerian Ladies” – a solidarity group created by Nigerian migrant domestic workers in Saudi Arabia. The group is a resort to self-help because the Nigerian Embassy in Riyadh has never for once responded to any of the SOS (Save Our Souls) telephone calls nor text messages sent by Nigerians in distress in the Gulf country.
SATELLITE TIMES female reporter was admitted into the group after convincing the group leaders that the engagement was meant to bring their plight to the African Union and the world at large. SATELLITE TIMES is involved in a field research conducted by the African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa), a pan African trade union organisation with over 108 national trade union centres as its affiliates in 51 of the 55 African countries representing all categories of workers including domestic and migrant workers.
ITUC-Africa, which is championing the campaign to bring to world attention the horrific conditions of African migrants living and working in the Gulf Countries where their lives are worth less than those of camels.
ITUC-Africa field research focuses on the Gulf countries of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. The documentary has equally taken researchers to Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Ghana; the African countries that have the highest numbers of migrant domestic workers in that region.
Omotayo, in her June post which happened to be her last, narrated to the solidarity group her latest incident of battery in the hands of the Saudi family she worked for. Her boss and the entire family had descended on her for being disrespectful to them. The maid’s only offence was that she insisted her three-month salary arrears be paid to her. She had put her foot down saying she would no longer accept excuses for the non-payment of her salaries just as she said she was tired of eating leftover food. Her action was seen as an affront.
No one can say with certainty what happened afterwards. A few days later she was dead. It is believed she must had been subjected to more beatings and torture.
While the solidarity group was mourning the death of Omotayo, another Nigerian maid was sent to early grave. The second girl was by name Shola. Her story was told by Adeola Oladipo, another housemaid in the Strong Nigeria Ladies Group:
“Shola has been constantly assaulted and starved by her sponsor in Saudi Arabia. Whenever she demands for food they would always beat her up and she became so slim like somebody with HIV.
“One day her male boss came as usual to beat her while she was doing chores in the kitchen. The beating became so severe she had to defend herself with a knife. In the process the knife cut her boss and her sponsor hit her on the neck and she collapsed. When the boss saw that Shola was dying, he rushed her to the hospital where he said she suddenly fell ill. A few days later, the Nigerian gave up the ghost in the hospital.”
According to a report by ITUC-Africa, an estimated 2.1 million migrant domestic workers continue to risk severe labour exploitation in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). However, this estimated number is most probably far higher.
Mostly women from Asia and Africa, migrant domestic workers face harsh conditions while employed in the Gulf.
Often confined to the home, they are isolated and at risk of exploitation. Commonly, they are not paid, not paid in full or not on time. The hours of work are often extreme, and some GCC countries do not set maximum hours of work in law. In those countries that regulate daily rest, workers can still be required to work up to 16 hours a day legally. Some workers are exposed to physical abuse such as beatings and sexual violence, including rape. This abuse can last for months or even years. The vast majority of migrant domestic workers are obliged to live in their employer’s home, which makes them extremely vulnerable.
A call for action
According to Joel Odigie, Coordinator of the ITUC-Africa research, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) successfully closed a campaign to improve the spaces for the defence and protection of the rights of workers in Qatar. The Qatar government made tangible commitment to improve her legislation, policies and practices that will enhance the protection of the rights of migrant workers living and working in Qatar.
Odigie added that ITUC-Africa has similarly been campaigning to improve the rights of African migrants to the GCC states especially to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who employ more African migrant workers.
“The study will help ITUC-Africa and her affiliates better understand African migrant workers trends to the GCC states, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It will catalogue the human rights’ situations of African migrant workers in these GCC states; help to analyse the legal employment frameworks in these GCC states; show whether these frameworks enhance or undermine African migrant workers’ rights; document methods by which rights’ abuses are perpetrated; document cases of rights’ abuses. The study will equally suggest ways to better address and prevent reoccurrence of these abuses”, Odigie said.
Amnesty confirms 60 killed by Boko Haram in Rann
At least 60 people were killed following the 28 January devastating Boko Haram attack on Rann, a border town in Borno state, northeast Nigeria, Amnesty International has confirmed.
The organization also analyzed satellite imagery which shows hundreds of burned structures in the town. Many of the destroyed structures only date back to 2017, suggesting they were shelters for internally displaced people who came to Rann seeking protection.
“We have now confirmed that this week’s attack on Rann was the deadliest yet by Boko Haram, killing at least 60 people. Using satellite imagery we have also been able to confirm the mass burning of structures as Boko Haram unleashed a massive assault on Rann, most of which is now destroyed,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.
“This attack on civilians who have already been displaced by the bloody conflict may amount to possible war crime, and those responsible must be brought to justice. Disturbingly, witnesses told us that Nigerian soldiers abandoned their posts the day before the attack, demonstrating the authorities’ utter failure to protect civilians.”
Alleged withdrawal of troops, triggered a massive exodus of civilians to Cameroon, as fear spread that Boko Haram would take advantage and attack the town. At around 9am on 28 January, a group of Boko Haram fighters arrived on motorcycles. They set houses ablaze and killed those left behind. They also chased after those who attempted to escape and killed some people outside the town. Eleven bodies were found within Rann town, and 49 bodies were found outside.
Amnesty International was informed that about 50 people have not been accounted for. Those who took part in the burial explained what they saw.
According to an eyewitness: “Ten of us [Civilian Joint Task Force] came from Cameroon to Rann for the burial. When we arrived, we found and buried 11 corpses within the town, but the soldiers told us that they buried several others yesterday [30 January] who had decayed. Outside the town, we recovered and buried 49 dead bodies all with gunshot wounds.”
Aid agencies have reported that some 30,000 civilians have fled for the border with Cameroon in recent days, joining a further 9,000 who fled Boko Haram’s previous attack on Rann on 14 January.
Satellite evidence of mass burning
Amnesty International analyzed satellite images from 30 January 2019 showing hundreds of structures burned in the east, south and southeast of Rann. Environmental sensors detected fires in the area on 28 and 29 January.
In the 14 January attack, Boko Haram burned well over 100 structures in other areas of Rann. These two recent attacks have left most of the town heavily damaged or destroyed.
Amnesty International is calling on Nigerian authorities to investigate the alleged withdrawal of security forces of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) from Rann, which may have left tens of thousands of civilians exposed to this latest deadly attack.
“Boko Haram has consistently and deliberately targeted civilians in Rann, which makes the Nigerian authorities failure to protect people all the more unacceptable,” said Osai Ojigho.
“The authorities on both sides of the border must provide the supplies and safety that these people require. The Cameroonian authorities must also desist from forcing people to return until conditions are safe and they choose to do so voluntarily.”
Woman slashes 11-year-old housemaid with kitchen knife
A young girl only identified as Victoria is currently traumatized and in agonizing pain after she was severely inflicted with knife-injuries by her madam (identified as mummy Pemisire), for allegedly stealing milk.
The attention of this reporter was drawn to this case when a Twitter user, Adex Adebukola Crowngold (@AdexAdebukola) shared a gruesome photo of the child with the caption;
“My attention has just been called to this. The madam did this to her housemaid because she was accused of stealing milk.
“She’s in the hospital and the woman arrested. But justice must prevail. Location is at Ibadan.”
My attention has just been called to this….
The madam did this to her house maid because she was accused of stealing milk.
She's in the hospital and the woman arrested. But justice must prevail.
— Adex Adebukola Crowngold (@AdexAdebukola) January 11, 2019
Speaking to SATELLITE TIMES newspaper, an eyewitness who begged to remain unnamed, gave an account as it happened on Friday, January 11, in Sanyo area, Ibadan.
“The girl ran out of their apartment with blood stains all over her and madam was still chasing her. The little girl said she tore her body with a knife.”
The 11-year-old victim was eventually rescued by concerned neighbours in Sanyo area, and taken to a nurse for first aid treatment before the Police came to get her the next morning.
When asked about the girl’s current condition and who was responsible for her hospital bill, the eyewitness said “I should think she is fine. I don’t know who is handling her bills. The Police took her to Montana hospital, Challenge area in Ibadan.”
Her madam, Pemisire, was however arrested same night of the incident by the Police and taken to a station in Sanyo, Ibadan.
“The madam should still be in the Police custody. That is if they haven’t released her yet, you know Nigerian Police. She hasn’t returned home since that night,” the witness added.
Efforts to reach the Oyo State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Ajisebutu Adekunle via telephone were initially unsuccessful but he later responded with a text saying “the case is currently under investigation. The CP, Abiodun Odude, has directed that the case should be transferred to the state CIID Iyaganku immediately for discreet investigation and prosecution.”
How I was drugged and my baby stolen by midwife
All hell broke loose after a woman in labour, recovered from a drugged sleep only to realize that her new born baby had been stolen by the midwife. The woman, Joy Ebarelen, alleged that the midwife, Modebe Christiana (aka Nurse Ada) heavily drugged her in a bid to kill her, steal and sell her baby. The midwife assisted by her husband, a man simply known as Victor, allegedly smuggled her, while still unconscious, back to her home where they left her for dead. Ebarelen however regained consciousness two days after and found herself, not in hospital but at home on her bed.
Speaking with SATELLITE TIMES, Ebarelen said she was almost killed by the duo of Nurse Ada and her husband Victor. She recounts her ordeal from the beginning:
“I considered them Good-Samaritans, that were divinely sent to save me from my financial predicaments; I never knew their target was to kill me, then steal and sell my unborn baby.”
“I was introduced to Nurse Ada by a friend Mrs Oduma who is also my neighbour at Old Agbor Road Ubiaja , Esan South-East Local Government Area, Edo State. When I was Five months pregnant, Oduma asked me if I had registered for antenatal and I said I will soon do that once I have money. She promised to help, that she will take me to a Nurse who is good birth attendant and that she (Oduma) will foot the bill. So when we got there, I saw some pregnant women on the mat in Nurse Ada’s Patent Medicine Store. Someone was bathing a baby, so I didn’t suspect anything and I continued coming for antenatal till my baby was due.”
“In the early hours of Friday 19th October 2018, I started feeling pains around the abdomen; I called the nurse to inform her and she asked me to come straight to her house but that I should come in through the back door. She added that I should not tell anyone where I was going. I took that as a spiritual advice knowing that we live in a wicked world and I do not wish to have a spiritual attack during labour.
I went to Nurse Ada’s house with my three children because there was no one to look after them at home. Now in labour, I recalled she gave me two tablets that put me in severe pains. My phone rang many times but Nurse Ada refused me from picking any calls. I became suspicious. It was not until the third day that she allowed me to call Oduma, the same woman who had introduce me to the Nurse. I told my friend that I have been in labour for two days in Nurse Ada’s house.
“To my shock Oduma told me she was also in labour in another hospital. I was confused because Oduma was never pregnant before and suddenly she too was expecting a baby. Shortly after my phone conversation, Victor, Nurse Ada’s husband, came to give me another two tablets of white drug. Immediately, the nurse went and wore hand gloves to take delivery of my baby even when I was not experiencing any contraction. The pains around my stomach became more severe as Nurse Ada used her hand to burst the water and a few minutes later the baby came out and it was a baby girl. Nurse Ada brought out a piece of wrapper to cover the baby and she handed her to a lady standing by. Mr Victor pinned me down from behind and I started shouting that I was losing strength and thereafter I fainted.”.
When I regained consciousness, I could see Victor was standing over me. He appeared surprised that I was still alive. He went out and came back with an injection in his hand but I had no power to protest as he injected me by force with a drug I do not know the name.
“When I regained consciousness two days after the effect of the drugs, I found myself lying on the bed in my house. I asked my first son (7 years old) where my new born baby and he told me that I did not return home with the baby. Immediately, I put a call to Nurse Ada and demanded for my new born baby, but the Nurse told me that my baby boy was dead and that she had helped me to bury the child. I began to shout as I told her my baby was not dead. I insisted my baby was a girl, not a boy. She continued saying my baby was dead. I must have called her more than 100 times but she stopped picking my calls. Later, I got a call from a man who immediately began to threaten me. He said he was Barrister Lawson and that he was warning me to stop saying that Nurse Ada stole my baby, that he will deal with me if I continue to tarnish his client’s image.
SATELLITE TIMES gathered that determined to recover her missing baby, Ebarelen reported the case to the Ubiaja Division of the Nigerian Police in Edo State. The matter was later transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) Benin City While the accused, Nurse Ada had at first denied taking delivery of the child, she later brought the baby girl to the police station but not without coming up with a counter-claim. She accused Ebarelen of of attempting to kill her own baby after birth and that was the reason she decided to take the baby away from her.
With this twist, Ebarelen suddenly found herself as the accused with the Police threatening to put her in detention. The following day at the police station, there was a new accusation waiting for her.
“Nurse Ada and Oduma had told the Police that I sold my baby to them. And because they refused to pay me, I reported the matter to the Police. Like a bad dream, all the policemen started abusing me while taking sides with Nurse Ada and Mrs. Oduma. The police refused to release my child to me saying that I should provide the man that impregnated me and that they will release the child to the father of my baby,” she lamented.
Ebarelen cried as she explained that the father of her new was not the same person who fathered her other three children. She named one Ardo Musa Mohammed, the Sarki Fulani of Ubiaja as the father of the child. She said that every person in the community including Nurse Ada and Oduma were in the know that Ardo had an affair with her that resulted in the pregnancy.
Ebarelen’s lawyer speaks
Barrister Sheriff Okoh, lawyer to Ebarelen, told SATELLITE TIMES that Ardo presented himself at the SCID on the 7th December 2018, but was told that the baby was under the care of Missionary Reverend Sisters. Okoh wondered why an earlier directive by the Commissioner of Police in the State on the 26th of November 2018, to immediately release the baby to her mother was ignored. He also said the SCID is rather asking for a DNA test to confirm the identity of the real father of the baby.
Acting on behalf of Joy Ebarelen and Ardo Musa Mohammed, Sheriff Okoh on December 5th 2018 wrote a petition to the Commissioner of Police demanding the release of the baby within 24 hours. The lawyer threatened court action if his demands were denied.
‘’We will sue them for the breach of the child fundamental human rights. We are charging the suspect for kidnapping of the child, trafficking and selling of the child. Rumour has it that she (baby) was sold for 700,000 naira. No first-hand information from SCID, the Nurse refused to speak with me and we found out that she is not a qualified nurse. She run delivery centre in her house and a chemist store in the market.” Okoh said.
Speaking further, Okoh alleged that the three accused, Victor, Nurse Ada and Mrs Oduma have secured bail at the SCID in Benin City. He added that an information he got from inside sources revealed that the bail was set at 1.2 million naira (400,000 naira for each person) and now the SCID has allowed the accused to walk freely in the streets of Edo State while the mother cries in pains with no idea of the whereabouts of her baby.
SATELLITE TIMES contacted the SCID Benin City via telephone for official response. The Officer-in-Charge of the case known only as Supreintendent Singto declined comments. She however confirmed that the case was under SCID investigation. Calls to the principal suspects, Nurse Ada and Mrs Oduma failed to connect as their mobiles remained switched off for days.
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