By Emeka Ugwuonye
I wish I always had good news to report to you, but our world has as much evil in it that it is impossible to keep to that wish. Today, I am ready to make public some snippets of the outcome of a long standing investigation we have been pursuing on the Dubai Madams, their agents and sex-trafficking / sex slavery in Dubai, Greece and Italy with connections to Nigeria.
The report of my investigation was not to be released until the end of January. But events have forced me to act sooner by disclosing the identity of, by far, one of the major master-minds and super agents in the human trafficking rings with Nigeria and abroad. This woman goes by different names to various people. To the 15 girls in UAE, Italy and Greece that we have linked to her, she is known as “Aunty Lolly”. To some people that have worked with her in Dubai, she is simply “Lolly”. To those who have worked for her, she is “Madam” or “Aunty”. To the ordinary people who meet her on social network, she is Lauretta Onochie. These various names belong to the woman whose pictures are shown here. She maintains a Facebook page in which she projects herself as a sympathizer of the Nigerian ruling party.
On the surface, judging by our apparent silence in the past three months, one might think that we had given up on our fight against the Dubai Madams and their agents in Nigeria. But far from it. You must know that I have been representing the two girls, whose nude video clips outraged the world. When you undertake such tasks, you cannot give up easily. I had thus continued deep underground investigation of the Madams while preparing a major legal challenge to their operations. I needed to do that because I owed professional obligation to those girls and I have a task in this group to fight human trafficking.
It has not been easy to fight the war against human trafficking. The first obstacle we have had is that the victims are too ashamed, too scared and two poor to come out to tell their stories. I managed to have inbox exchanges that run into volumes and thousands of pages with these victims. Gradually, they began to trust and to find the confidence to tell their stories. Even at that, they remain vulnerable to law enforcement agencies both in the countries where they are and back here in Nigeria if they were to attempt to come back. They are fugitives, made so by others. They are outcasts, hunted by law enforcement, exploited by the wicked traffickers and their agents, and despised by all else.
The second challenge we have is that those who engage in human trafficking – the Madams and their Agents in Nigeria – are very powerful people. They belong to powerful networks of criminal gangs, politicians, financiers and racketeers. They are savvy. They have incredible ability to intimidate and awe anyone who dares them. Because of their access to powerful people, they have posed a major threat to me personally and to any group that tries to fight them. This has been so abundantly revealed through my investigations both here in Nigeria and foreign countries like the UAE, Italy and Greece.
Ms. Lauretta Onochie is clever as much as she could be cruel and mean-spirited her victims. As part of her cleverness, she has associated herself with the Abuja politicians. She likes photo-up opportunities with the most powerful politicians, including Presidents and Vice Presidents. Even though these politicians may not know about the details of her connections with the international human trafficking rings, this woman uses her pictures with the powerful people as a key instrument of shining her credibility and intimidating the victims of human trafficking and their families. Seeing a picture of her and the President is enough to silence the parents of a victim of human trafficking. That is enough to silence any official likely to ask questions. That is enough to get any curious immigration official who intercepts her girls to let them go unstopped. That is enough to cause you and I to believe that she cannot kill an ant. Yet, she is a vicious trafficker of poor girls into international prostitution.
My attention was first drawn to Lolly in August of last year. But she was just a mirage them. She was simply defined vaguely as the big Madam. Instead of getting to her, my investigation led me to one Ms. Blessing (which is certainly not her real name – just the name they give the girls). Blessing works for Aunty Lolly; that was the information I had. I pursued Ms. Blessing and the information I shared with the authorities led to the arrest of Blessing with 3 girls at the airport in October. (I reported this arrest before, but then I had not known who Lolly was). But my curiosity was triggered further when Blessing and the three girls were released in less than 24 hours. And Blessing vanished into the thin air. I knew there was a bigger fish behind the scenes. I returned to my contacts in Dubai. Again the investigation kept coming to one Lolly.
We came to the conclusion that whoever Lolly was, she must be a big player in the business. This is the business of recruiting young girls, promising them good life in Dubai and elsewhere, swearing their parents to shrines, selling them off for $5000 to $15000, making nude videos of them and using thugs to intimidate their parents back here in Nigeria, and making sure that immigration officials are bribed at the airport to let the girls through despite being underage. Two girls we have been tracking in Italy apparently came through a Lolly by another sub-agent, not Blessing. This suggests that the Lolly is big in the business. We would not have suspected that Lauretta Onochie could be the Lolly for many reasons. Lauretta Onochie based on her Facebook presence looked like a decent lady. Her support for President Buhari seems so honorable and something we would not expect from someone in the business of human trafficking. But something yielded in three days ago, which resolved the puzzle within 3 days.
As you well know from at least one previous incident, the Dubai Madams had attempted to mount a major reputational or credibility attack on my person. Their goal was simply to wage a scandal campaign against me and to project me as a bad person. This was their way of discouraging their girls from dealing with me and to scatter my social media support base, as well as to get certain officials working with me to develop cold feet. They made various efforts and have spreading various fabricated stories against me. In other words, they have always planned serious of information attack against me. I have to recognize that they are brilliant and quite organized in this.
In a last bid in this effort, Lauretta Onochie brilliantly recruited a number of person who have grudges against me, especially some people that were removed from our Facebook group. She recruited a man I removed from the group after so many complaints from married women that he sexually harassed them. She recruited a man in New York, whom I almost sent to jail for beating his wife and nearing killing her. She recruited Anne Nkwocha, a former DPA admin that I removed for gross misconduct. They has these people and more lined up in the information attacks against me. (I have sms from Anne Nkwocha to confirm their plot). I don’t think that these recruits are involved in human trafficking. They are just people angry with me, and Lauretta identified them.
The attack on me was launched on Sunday morning on the Facebook walls of Lauretta Onoshie. My mind went to the most important project I have at hand, which has been so sensitive I have had to pursue it discretely. That was my work on the Dubai cases. By Tuesday morning, I had to confront the girls. I started with one girl I has been reluctant to tell me much. I assure her of protection if she would talk. She was prepared to talk. But I suggested that she should simply send me the Facebook profile picture of Aunty Lolly. Low and behold: there she was – Lauretta Onochie, as in the Facebook page.
I couldn’t believe my eyes as I looked at the picture of Lauretta Onochie. I had to control my excitement. I needed further verification. I sent her pictures to many of the girls we are in contact with, asking for them to confirm if they knew the person on the pictures. Two girls in Greece, one girl in Italy and four in UAE have responded to my querry. They all said that was Aunty Lolly. Note that the girls in UAE did not know about the girls in Greece or Italy – the girls did not know about the other girls in the other countries. But wait. You haven’t heard the last.
After my court activities in Abuja on Thursday, I was so tired, not having slept since Monday. I got to my hotel and fell into a very deep sleep from 6pm to 11pm. I woke up and logged on to Facebook. I had a message from someone I had never known before. The message was simple: “Sir, the lady attacking you on her Facebook is a Madam. Be careful.” I responded: “Which lady is attacking me?”. The person just got back to me and confirmed it was Lauretta Onochie.
Ugwuonye is a legal practitioner