The entrance to the Camp Crame detention facility
A scandalous allegation of having sex with minor Philippine girls have been made against 8 out of the 96 Nigerian boys from Niger Delta who were on the sponsorship of the Federal Government of Nigeria Amnesty programme in far-away Philippine.
The Nigerian suspects stands the risk of being thrown into jail for the next 18 years unless they cough out 1million pesos each (about N3.5m). Already, the organizers of the programme have dished out about 5 million pesos to Philippine Police to amend the charges in order to give the boys a leeway out of the hook of the law.
The Head of the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), Samuel Pagdilao said the Nigerians were arrested last Wednesday inside a hotel in Manilla for allegedly engaging in a sex trade involving female minors.
He gave the names of the suspects as ; Lucky Nelson, 24, Dumalo Gbue, 25, Yerebbari Neemana, 29, Owki Baknanawe, 29, Sundah Korobriowei Mathew, 29, Gabriel Tekena, 28, Worlo Enyi, 25 and Mark Jack, 24.
According to him, â€œthe authorities learned about the suspectsâ€™ illegal activities after receiving an e-mail complaint from the mother of one of the minors alleging that â€œThe [minors] were being sold to the suspects for sexual services at the hotel.â€
The complainant also sought the assistance of CIDG for the rescue of her daughter,â€ In a rescue operation at about 10 p.m. of Wednesday, CIDG operatives saw a certain Emma Cruz, believed to be the minorsâ€™ â€œhandler,â€ negotiating with the Nigerians outside the hotel.
The victims were being peddled to the suspect for P1, 500 each. Authorities then arrested the Nigerians after the complainant-mother, who went along with the CIDG operatives, recognized one of the minors being â€œsoldâ€ as her 14-year-old daughter. But the alleged â€œhandlerâ€ eluded arrest.â€
Pagdilao said charges for violation of the Anti-violence Against Women and Children Law and the Anti-human Trafficking in Person Law are being prepared against the suspects and lauded the CIDGâ€™s â€œProject Angel Net,â€ a police campaign introduced by the CIDG to prevent children from becoming victims of cyber- sex, cyber -pornography, and other trafficking and sex trade-related abuses.
However, in a swift reaction, most of the Nigerian boys undergoing the programme told Crime Guard on phone that it was a frame up geared towards extorting money from them. One of them who craved for strict anonymity gave a vivid account of what really took place on the day in question.
According to him, â€œAt about 10pm local time, our boys who have the habit of seating in front of their hotel of residence, saw the police arrive in three SUV Van and began arresting as much of the blacks as they saw.
Some of the boys were able to run into their hotel room and by that escaped being arrested. They were taken to Campo Crame, a police Village in Quzon City. We went there and were told by the police officers that the boys were arrested for engaging minors in sex.
â€œWe got a lawyer who came to negotiate for us. We, however, discovered it was a setup organized by the police and some of their informants (who, one of the boys) had engaged before for sex as a prostitute which is called pokpok in filipino language and did not pay her.
In truth, the boys did not commit the offense as charged, but it is a common thing for Philippine police to set foreigners up and extort money from them. When we went into negotiation, they asked us to pay 1,000,000.00 pesos per person or they will charge them and make sure they go in for a minimum of 18 years jail term here in the Philippines.
They have perfected a process that will make it difficult for the boys to be acquitted as well as delay court process till the end of our stay. We were left with no option but to negotiate with them.
We involved the Nigerian Embassy, and the Ambassador, Mr. S.A.O Egurube, Charge dâ€™Affaires en titre / Head of Mission and Mr. Abraham E. Okoliko who is the Minister (Consular and Information) among other staff of the embassy, were at the police station.
â€œHowever, their presence made the police uncomfortable and as such, the boys were charged to court without further delay. The embassy had to withdraw so that we could negotiate effectively.
At this point, we gave the police 5 million pesos and the charges were amended to give the boy a leeway out of the hook of the law. At present, a court process is going on and by the grace of God, they will be out in, at most, 2 weeks time. We are still spending more money in the court process to fast track it.â€
Crime Guard also gathered that the Phillippine Star, a local tabloid celebrated the story against the Nigerian boys who are studying pipe line and underwater welding at MFI Foundation.
By Emma Nnadozie, Crime Editor