Precious thought if she broke out of her jail cell, she would run into freedom. She thought if she fled Jane’s Ghetto (brothel), she would break into blossom, and finally set on the path to achieving her dreams.

One month after The Nation revealed her predicament as a sex slave in Bracody’s underworld in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, she has fled captivity by Lady Jane, her Nigerian madame, to whom she was sold by her boyfriend, Nonso, for a paltry N220, 000. Lady Jane, the trafficker and sex merchant, claimed that she owed her N480, 000, however.

“There was no way I could work off the debt. I am tired. My body is tired. My genitals are worn. Because I was too eager to make money and pay off my debt, I slept with an average of 17 men daily, ‘short time’ and till daybreak. They were violent and mean. Most of my clients were vagabonds; street urchins, park thugs and criminals, and they did lots of wicked things to me,” she said, showing the scars of multiple cigarette burns on her left breast to the reporter.

She said, “I got these scars from Lady Jane’s bodyguard. His name is Franc. He is an enforcer. He is deployed to discipline girls who claim to be sick and whose daily remittances were incomplete. The day he burned me with cigarettes, I was very sick. I serviced six customers between 4 am and 6 am. Then I became tired and I could not go on. I felt truly sick but my madame (Lady Jane) did not believe me. So she told Franc to discipline me. Franc beat me with a rod. He broke my jaw and burned me with a cigarette on my left breast. I yielded when the pain became unbearable to me,” she said, stressing that she planned her escape from that point onwards.

Sold into slavery in 2018 by her boyfriend, Nonso, who claimed he was helping her process employment as a house-help in The Netherlands, Precious was instead trafficked via West Africa’s road corridor to Abidjan, where she was put to work as a prostitute in Lady Jane’s sex camp.

After a long, tortuous journey through land borders, the truth dawned on her with vicious pangs: she wasn’t going to The Netherlands to earn $600 a month as a housemaid.  She arrived in Abidjan to a rude awakening eerily termed “The welcome party.”

Precious was forced to undress and subjected to “brutal rape” by two of Lady Jane’s pimps and a bodyguard. “I was 15 and a virgin, but they deflowered me,” she lamented.

For three nights, Precious refused to eat and “service” customers and in response, her madame locked her up in a toilet. “She denied me food and water for three days. She said she would kill me and that I would regain my freedom once I pay a “debt” of N480, 000, to cover the money she spent as my travel expenses. I didn’t know how she came by that figure,” she said, claiming that she couldn’t run away because she was “very afraid” of the blood oath that she was forced to make. “They said I would develop leprosy and run mad if I ever ran away,” she said.

Precious, however, summoned the courage to flee two days after meeting with The Nation. “They saw me with you. They knew I told you about Princess, because after my interview with you, Princess was forcibly removed from the brothel by a team comprising two of her clients, Festus, her brother and a policeman. My madame was livid because she happened to be the hottest girl around. She attracted more patronage and bigger fish. Lady Jane swore to deal with anyone involved in her escape. I heard the girls talking about it. If I didn’t run, they would kill me,” she said.

Hence, a few weeks after her story got published in the second instalment of The Nation’s investigative series on sex trafficking, Precious fled Lady Jane’s sex camp in Bracody, on the pretext of going out to fetch water.

Speaking from her new base, she said: “I fled in a wrapper and bathroom slippers. A perfect opportunity presented itself around 8.15 am on a Tuesday. We went out to fetch bathwater in a group watched by Franc and his vagabonds. But I escaped while they retreated to smoke weed in a shed close to the reservoir. I didn’t tell anyone about my plan. If not, some of the other girls would rat on me. If I got caught, they would make me ‘disappear’ (kill) me,” she said.

But freedom isn’t as rosy as it was cracked up to be, the 18-year-old would find. Since her escape, she has been finding it tough on the streets of Abidjan.

The first woman she approached for help in Marcory pawned her off to a couple in Treichville. “I thought she was a Good Samaritan but after giving me shelter for a week, she sold me off to a couple, Francis and Lydia Okon, in Treichville. I don’t think those are their real names because they have three different international passports. The duo gave me a room in their apartment and initially urged me to sleep with men to pay for my boarding. When I resisted, the husband forced me. He beat me up. And he later gave me CFA 10, 000. He promised to help me return to Nigeria, if I cooperated. I believed him. I started hustling (prostituting) for them and they paid me CFA 2,500 every day, even though I made at least CFA 30, 000 everyday servicing customers in their two-room apartment.

“Sometimes, the husband took me out to meet clients in their homes. Sometimes, they took me out and kept vigil while I slept with neighbours in their cars at night. Soon they begged me to get them more girls. They said they were trying to set up a brothel and that they needed my experience in recruiting and managing fresh Nigerian girls,” she said.

Eight days ago, Precious escaped bondage – for the second time in two months – while shopping with Lydia, her new madame, in Yopougon. She has decided to “lie low and hustle quietly,” until the Ivorien government totally lifts the lockdown imposed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Immediately they do, I will make good hustle and find my way to Nigeria. I have saved CFA 28, 000 now. Lady Jane is still looking for me. She sends her thugs to scour brothels in Abidjan,” she said.

Precious can only imagine what they would do to her if she ever got caught. Likewise Princess. At The Nation’s first encounter with Princess one month ago, the 14-year-old, had just arrived in Abidjan via the land border. Looking like a fish out of water, she nurtured both innate and outward bruises. Findings revealed that she was raped by a quartet, who paid her madame CFA 100, 000 to lay with her for the night.

They force-fed her with hard drugs and atote, a local aphrodisiac is often taken by many of the vagabonds and other patrons. She didn’t know what she was doing.

She blacked out through her ordeal. I was privileged to be around when the pimps brought her back. They slapped her repeatedly to keep her awake as the thugs dragged her inside and dumped her on the floor of her room, revealed Precious, who witnessed the episode.

As I attempted to speak with Princess, she recoiled in fear, and a massive prostitute called First Lady attacked me. She yanked off my glasses and smashed it against the wall, screaming: “Wetin una want? We no dey service Naija men. Make una carry una wahala go!”

ACHIEVERS Newspaper authoritatively reports that Princess has fled captivity in Bracody. Her brother, Festus, revealed that he wasn’t aware that she was put to work as a prostitute. The linoleum trader said he got wind of Princess’s situation after reading The Nation’s report.

He said: “I left her in care of Ifeoma, a family friend, who brought her to Abidjan from Nigeria. She told me she was bringing her here to learn a trade but I was surprised to learn that she put her to work as a ‘runs girl’ (prostitute). I shuttled Abidjan and Bamako for my business. Luckily I was around when the story broke out. I was squatting with a friend in Cocody but I became suspicious after I read of the Princess girl in Bracody.

“Although her real name is Ositadinma (meaning ‘It is well from today’), everybody called her Princess because of her beauty…Ifeoma dumped her with Lady Jane after collecting CFA 2 million on her head. Ifeoma’s family is in Burkina Faso. I was able to rescue her with the help of one of her clients, a bus driver in Atteccoube. Ifeoma called me afterwards to ask why I removed Princess from where she was learning ‘hustle.’ I cursed her in anger and she stopped picking my calls. I learnt Lady Jane called to threaten her and request for a refund of her money,” said Festus.

Further findings revealed that asides their fear of the blood oath that they were forced to make by their madames, most of the girls are wary of running away or approaching law enforcers for help.

“Police can’t save you. They work with the madames. I received the worst beating of my life after I told one of my clients, who was a policeman, to help me escape. I thought he would help me but he revealed my secret to my madame and she subsequently enforced stricter measures to prevent us from getting friendly with clients. In my case, I wasn’t free to canvass for clients on my own. She assigned men to me. They paid to her. I was the youngest. They called me fresh meat,” said Princess, in an exclusive WhatsApp voice call with ACHIEVERS from her new base in Abidjan.

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