A former Edo House of Assembly aspirant, Josephine Iyamu, has been convicted of trafficking five Nigerian women into Germany to work as prostitutes after subjecting them to “juju” rituals.
Iyamu, who sought the All Progressives Congress (APC) ticket to represent the people of Egor Local Government Area, is a career nurse based in the United Kingdom.
The 51-year-old was convicted of five counts of arranging or facilitating travel for sexual exploitation at Birmingham Crown Court.
Jurors also found her guilty of perverting the course of justice.
Her rituals saw her victims forced to eat chicken hearts, drink blood containing worms, and have powder rubbed into cuts, the court heard.
Iyamu is the first person to be convicted under Modern Slavery Act laws passed in 2015, allowing prosecutions of British citizens for overseas sexual trafficking.
She was born in Liberia, but became a British citizen in 2009 having been allowed to stay in the UK due to her nursing qualifications.
Her husband, 60-year-old Efe Ali-Imaghodor, was acquitted of doing acts intending to pervert the course of justice.
The UK National Crime Agency (NCA) said Iyamu had “enlisted the help of a voodoo priest” to put the women through a “juju” ceremony which was “designed to exert control” over them.
The victims and their families were threatened with serious harm if they broke their oath to Iyamu, according to the NCA.
The court heard Iyamu was “willing to put the women at risk of serious injury and or death as they made their journey from Nigeria to Europe”.
They were too afraid to challenge her or fail to pay her back tens of thousands of Euros she charged them to be trafficked into Germany, the court was told.
The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) said it collaborated with UK authorities to hunt down Ms Iyamu, following several trafficking incidents linked to her.
Director-General of NAPTIP, Julie Okah-Donlie, hailed the conviction as “the beginning of the renewed determination by NAPTIP to bring all foreign-based human traffickers to justice irrespective of their location around the world.”
Iyamu will be sentenced in the UK on Wednesday.