A Nigerian sex trafficking victim forced to work as a prostitute in the UK was cut on her back, shoulders, chest and legs with a machete during a black magic ceremony designed to scare her into secrecy, a court heard.
The woman, who was 20 at the time, told Cardiff Crown Court how she was left with scars all over her body after being subjected to the ‘juju ceremony’, in which she was also forced to eat a live snail.
The young woman is one of two who was allegedly trafficked from Nigeria into Britain by Lizzy Idahosa, 24, and her husband Jackson Omoruyi, 41.
Giving evidence, the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: “The juju man was standing there with a big knife, like you use for cutting grass. I was scared because I did not know what he was going to do to me.
“He used the blade to make marks on me. It was sore and it left me with scars.”
Idahosa, from London, has been charged with trafficking the two women into and around the UK and inciting them to work as prostitutes.
She denies a total of seven charges, which also include transferring criminal property.
Her partner and co-accused Omoruyi denies three charges of inciting the women to become prostitutes and transferring criminal property.
On the first day of the trial, prosecutor Caroline Rees told the court how the woman, who lost her mother when she was 10, had wanted to travel to London to find her father.
She had met a woman in Nigeria who promised to help her travel to England, but who first made her take part in a ‘juju ceremony where she was forced to eat a live snail, an egg and some dust.
She was told that if she broke her vows of secrecy, she would become ill or infertile.
She told the court: “Before I got to the house, I had no idea what would happen. When I arrived, Lizzy’s sister and the juju man told me I would be swearing an oath.
“I was there for a couple of hours. They brought out a live snail and broke its shell, then they asked me to swallow it. They gave me some dirty water to drink.
“I had to give my underwear to his assistant and the juju man cut the backs of my legs with a machete and marked me with a razor blade.
“It made me bleed and I had pain in my legs. I did everything they asked me because I really wanted to go to London.”
Adedamola Aderemi, representing Idahosa, suggested that the woman had fabricated the story of the juju ceremony and explained such rituals were common in Nigerian films.
He also suggested her scars were traditional marks given to children in Nigeria.
The court heard that, following the ceremony, the woman had travelled to London using a fake passport and visa.
She then met up with Idahosa, who told her she would have to pay £50,000 for her travel costs and started sending her to brothels to earn money to pay her debt.
The woman said she had worked in eight brothels across the UK, including some in Cardiff and Swansea.
She told the court that during a typical day at one brothel in Cardiff she would get up at 10am and get dressed in her underwear before waiting for men to arrive mid-morning.
She said she would then have intercourse with up to eight men each day who would pay her £50 in cash.
The court heard that on one occasion, she had refused to work at a brothel in Swansea.
She said: “They tried to control me and I did not like it, so I left. They told me I had to sleep with all the men, even if I was tired. I was not allowed to sleep. When Lizzy found out, she shouted at me.”
When asked why she had not run away, she replied: “Lizzy told me if I disobeyed her, the juju would kill me or make me go mad. She told me she would send someone to kill my sister and brother.”
When asked during a police interview if she still believed in juju, she said she did not know.
The woman was arrested while working at the Ambassador Suite in Cardiff in June 2010.
She told police officers she had paid Idahosa £45,550.
The case continues. (Daily Mail)