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.
Displaced Kubwa Village traders cry out for justice
-over 3,000 traders become economic refugees
-send petitions to Presidential Committee, SERAP and ECOWAS
Thousands of traders in Kubwa Village Market, Federal Capital Territory, have found themselves in a limbo following the takeover of the market they founded 30 years ago by a developer, said to have been imposed on them by authorities of Bwari Area Council, especially under the leadership of an outgoing Chairman, Mr. Musa Dikko. For decades, these ordinary market women and men traded in grains, household items, flours, vegetables, plastic materials, fish, meat, poultry products, groceries, footwear, second-hand clothing and just about everything under the sun.
In the wake of their displacement however, combined hundreds of millions of naira retail businesses have crashed from their heights. While some of the traders resorted to displaying their wares in open places and can be found by the roadside near the reconstructed market, especially around the NYSC Camp, Arab Road and Kubwa Express doing running battle on a daily basis with men of the Environmental Task Force who seize and destroy their goods, the majority of the market founders have crashed to the rock bottom finding no way to pick up the pieces.
A group of the displaced traders, led by Alhaji Samaila Ibrahim visited Satellite Times office and narrated their tales of woes in the hands of the developer, H & I Construction Nigeria Limited. According to Ismail, his group comprised former shopowners in the Kubwa Village Market who were thrown out without compensation to make way for the demolition and reconstruction of the market now renamed Maitama Ultra-Modern Market Kubwa.
“We are different from the petty traders you find occupying the open space outside the market. We were the stall and shade owners who built the market from the scratch before the developers came in and dispossessed us in collusion with top officials of the Bwari Area Council. I say we were dispossessed and displaced because no compensation of any form has been paid to us. It is like government building a road and they demolish your house but chose not to pay compensation,” Alhaji Samaila explained.
Continuing with his bitter narrative Samaila Ibrahim, who at one time was the Chairman of the Kubwa Village Traders Association, added that before the demolition he had several stalls with wares valued at over N15 million. With no market to sell his goods, he has lost everything. He said his children are facing so much difficulty in universities that the only option he has to keep them in school is to put his house on sale.
Another popular trader who also has hit ground zero is Alhaji Abubakar Dangaladima. For years he was the major meat supplier to the market, owning six open shades. Each day, he slaughtered and sold five cows. Smaller butchers come to him for the meat they sell. The renowned butcher who came to Satellite Times office logging a big sack full of receipts showed evidence that for each cow he slaughtered, he paid a slaughter fee of N800 to the FCT administration. He is left with no business after the demolition of the market. He put his loses at N17 million.
There is also a meat sub-market which comprised of almost a hundred traders in the meat value chain. All of those traders were displaced by the demolition, which in turn put the subsistence of their families under threat. Many of them can barely feed anymore.
As contained in a petition sent to several local and regional bodies, including the Presidential Committee on Trade Malpractices, the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) and the Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project (SERAP), the displaced traders insisted that their human and economic rights have been violated by the actions of the developer and the Bwari Area Council.
“We are now economic refugees in our fatherland. We have been denied our rights to earn a living as citizens of Nigeria. Things have fallen apart in all our families. We are victims of gross injustice,” the petition reads in part.
Included in the long list of displaced traders are “Alhaji Umar Seriki Pawa who lost four open shade some of which he collected rent of about N150,000 annually from tenant traders while utilizing one for his own trading activities. Today, he has nothing to feed his family. Then there is Alhaji Ambusa who is popular for selling clothes and wrappers. He too lost a lot of his wealth worth about N7million. We have Alhaji Ismaila Sa’ad Abubakar who lost about N2 million. Alhaji Alwali was a big trader in tomatoes. Less than a year before the demolition, he had bought two N350,000 thousand each. Faced with hardship as a result of the demolition, he later sold his own house. Today, he and his family are cramped in a small rented apartment.
We also have Alhaji Abubakar Mai-Wanke who was popular for selling foodstuffs, especially beans. He lost two shops and a business valued at over N10 million.”
Perhaps the worst casualty of the market takeover is a female trader popularly known as Mama Abdulrasak. An indigene of Edo State, she had taken a big loan which she invested in her business. Without shops to sell her wares, every passing day drew her closer to penury. Hounded by debtors, she was severally dragged to police stations and detained. Finally unable to withstand the heat, she fled, leaving behind her children. Her family is disintegrated as her teenage daughter is said to have taken to prostitution while her son, having dropped out of school is roaming the street with drug abusers as friends.
Hide and Seek engagement
In 2016, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported of a meeting between the Bwari Area Council executive, the Kubwa/Maitama Village Market Traders Association and H & I developers, held at the Bwari Legislative Chambers. The meeting was aimed at finding an out-of-court solution to the issue of demolishing the existing markets for new ones and also to avoid damages that could result from the exercise.
The traders and market developers had been embroiled in a legal battle at the Abuja High Court 34 since 2014. Finally, the warring parties reached an out of court settlement, paving way for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
However, Samaila Ibrahim said the process leading to the MoU was shrouded in secrecy.
“We only heard there was an MoU, but we never saw it with our eyes. Many of us who are the key stakeholders were left in the dark. What happened was that the market developers and the Council Chairman, Musa Dikko, decided to employ the divide-and-rule tactics. They offered free shops each worth N10 million to the market executives, technically telling the rest of us to go to blazes,” Ismaila said.
Satellite Times obtained shop allocation letters, each dated 21st December 2017, issued by H & I Construction Nigeria Limited to Buhari Ahmed Sauwa (Chairman of the Market Association); Yusuf Musa Sauwa (Assistant Chairman); Mr. S.P Ndubisi Onuoha (LockUp Shop Chairman) and Ugwu Romanus Ifeanyi (Secretary). The documents, each titled: “Allocation Letter for An Open Shop at Maitama Ultra Modern Market, Kubwa Abuja”, show that each shop has a unit sales price of N4,150,000 but “being complimentary” was given free to the beneficiaries.
Ismaila said the shops were sold or re-sold at prices ranging from N8 million to N12 million depending on their strategic locations and/or if upstairs or downstairs, with downstairs shops attracting more value because of the easy access to customers.
“The question we must ask is how many ordinary traders can afford N10 million or N12 million for a shop? Obviously, the new market is not built for traders; rather for rich rent-seeking shylock middlemen. We have been excluded and denied the right to earn a living. This is inequality and sabotage of the economic agenda of the President Buhari government. We need justice” Samaila protested.
The Kubwa Market is said to be the oldest market in FCT with a size of 3.8 hectares. The market was relocated from the Maitama district of Abuja when the original inhabitants of Maitama were relocated to Kubwa. It has 1,467 shops.
Satellite Times visited the office of H & I Construction on Anthony Enahoro Street, Utako Abuja. A staff member of the company by name Khalifa said he was not authorized to speak. This newspaper later contacted Engineer Rabiu of the same company on his mobile. He declined to make comments.
Similarly, several calls were made to Musa Dikko, the outgoing Chairman of Bwari Area Council. The phone rang out on each occasion as he refused to answer.
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.”
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