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How Local Fish Sell­er Ris­es To Become Anti-Human Traf­fick­ing Activist — Ochuko joy Agbeyegbe Sto­ry

Ochuko joy Agbeyegbe

A Niger­ian inter­na­tion­al stu­dent  has risen to become an anti-human traf­fick­ing activist in far away Cyprus. The lady a 25 year old Miss Ochuko Joy Agbeyegbe, a one-time local fish sell­er who is now a grad­u­ate of Girne, Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty of Cyprus earned her­self the rep­u­ta­tion because of her activ­i­ties and effort to assist girls that were ille­gal­ly smug­gled to Cyprus to be exploit­ed as sex slaves.

Speak­ing to toktok9ja about her edu­ca­tion, expe­ri­ence and how she weath­ered the chal­lenges.  she said she came from a very hum­ble back­ground, where she sold fish to sur­vive and that it was dur­ing her school years in Cyprus that she first came in con­tact with traf­ficked per­sons of Niger­ian her­itage.

” I first arrived Cyprus in 2011 to pur­sue a degree in Inter­na­tion­al Law where I fin­ished with a first class and was called to the Niger­ian Bar in 2016. After prac­tic­ing in Nige­ria for one year, I trav­eled back to Cyprus to com­plete my mas­ters in Inter­na­tion­al Busi­ness Law which I had start­ed before attend­ing Law School.

There I saw first hand what it meant to be a vic­tim of human traf­fick­ing. One of the girls i meet dur­ing my stay nar­rat­ed how she was traf­ficked from Edo State in Nige­ria to Cyprus near­ly 3 years ago. She told me how she was sub­ject­ed to all forms of phys­i­cal, emo­tion­al and sex­u­al abuse and had paid over 10 mil­lion naira to her madam. There were oth­er vic­tims but they weren’t will­ing to speak against their madam, per­haps because of the voodoo secre­cy oath sworn by vic­tims in Nige­ria before they embark on their jour­ney to Europe.”

” After sev­er­al months of strate­giz­ing, I even­tu­al­ly decid­ed to quit my job and start­ed the process to lib­er­ate the vic­tim. We report­ed the case to the police and the Traf­fick­ers were arrest­ed imme­di­ate­ly. Sur­pris­ing­ly, the Traf­fick­ers were released by the police with­in 2 days and we (the vic­tim and I) start­ed to run for our lives. The North Cyprus Police final­ly resolved that there was not enough evi­dence to prove the alle­ga­tions and decid­ed that the vic­tim would be deport­ed back to Nige­ria.”

” At that point, I was com­plete­ly bro­ken because I was not only doing my job as a lawyer, but I had become so close to the vic­tim and come to love her as a sis­ter. This is a girl from a hum­ble back­ground who had paid over 10 mil­lion naira and now about to be deport­ed back to the vil­lage, I knew I need­ed to do some­thing.”

” After receiv­ing sev­er­al threats from the traf­fick­ers, we even­tu­al­ly ran to the office of the Unit­ed Nations High Com­mis­sion for Refugees Office in North Cyprus on 19th Feb­ru­ary, 2018, seek­ing help. The UNHCR lawyer then filed an Asy­lum Appli­ca­tion on behalf of the vic­tim to the Gov­ern­ment of South Cyprus (a coun­try under the Euro­pean Union). We were also pro­vid­ed with accom­mo­da­tion in a 4 bed­room duplex, food, clothes and police pro­tec­tion.”

” Today, the vic­tim has been grant­ed her res­i­dence per­mit to live in the Repub­lic of Cyprus. With month­ly gov­ern­ment assis­tance, she now pays her house rent and  has been award­ed schol­ar­ship to study Law so she can assist oth­er vic­tims in the future.”

Ochuko joy Agbeyegbe

” I also recent­ly assist­ed a vic­tim of labour traf­fick­ing in Oman who was traf­ficked by a Niger­ian agent to work as a house­maid but end­ed up being used as a slave in Oman. The vic­tim final­ly reunit­ed with her hus­band and daugh­ter some weeks ago. Based on my per­son­al expe­ri­ence as an anti-human traf­fick­ing activist and research on human traf­fick­ing which formed the basis of my mas­ters the­sis, I’ve been giv­en recog­ni­tion by sev­er­al human­i­tar­i­an and inter­na­tion­al bod­ies.”

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