How I used juju to reduce trafficking – NAPTIP boss, Okah-Donli

In a bid to clamp down the alarming rate of human trafficking, the Director-General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Julie Okah-Donli, has revealed how she took to black magic.

There was an almost 10-fold increase in the number of Nigerian women arriving in Italy by boat between 2014 and 2016, with at least four in five forced into prostitution, according to data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Frustrated with the state of things, Okah-Donli risked a radical, new tactic.

She set aside forensics, visited a spiritual leader and took on the pervasive black magic.

Six months on, she is finally making ground tackling the trade in people that enriches traffickers but traps thousands of Nigerians in sex work, danger and debt.

She said her visit to the local leader, who then summoned his black magic priests, has given women living under the fear of a curse the confidence to turn on captors and give evidence.

“I wanted him to gather the juju priests … because he is someone who is well revered and whenever he speaks they listen, ” Okah-Donli was quoted by Thomson Reuters Foundation on Thursday.

“As soon as the news went viral on social media, we started getting lots of reports (of trafficking victims).”

According to the United Nations, at least nine in every 10 Nigerian women trafficked in Europe come from Edo State.

Hence Okah-Donli’s decision to engage Oba Ewuare II, leader of the Edo people in the historic kingdom of Benin, in her crusade against the traffickers.

A week after her March visit, the Oba summoned the kingdom’s juju priests to a ceremony at his palace and dismissed the curses they place on trafficking victims – and cast a fresh curse on anyone who aided illegal migration within his domain.

The effect was immediate.

“Girls were calling … they were calling NAPTIP and giving us information … We started getting reports of people that were in the business,” Okah-Donli said.