Two Italian police officers in Milan (archival picture)
Two Italian police officers in Milan (archival picture)

The Italian authorities have dismantled a Nigerian human trafficking ring that operated between Nigeria, Libya and Italy, forcing women and children to sell their bodies by using voodoo rituals as a form of coercion.

Five Nigerians including three women have been arrested by Catania police on charges of running a human trafficking ring. Among the victims, who arrived in Sicily on large migrant boats, were numerous children and women forced to work as prostitutes. Those arrested are: Ehimwenma 'Christ' Osagie, 36, the sisters Naomi and Susam Ikponwmasa, who are 39 and 34, Loveth Omoregbe, 28, and Lawrence Ogbama. Ogbama was arrested in Rome. All five suspects stand accused of human trafficking, aiding and abetting clandestine prostitution and exploiting sex workers. 

Threat of voodoo rites 

The investigation kicked off after an underage Nigerian girl reported the traffickers to the police. Her testimony and those of other Nigerian women reportedly forced to engage in prostitution by the suspects enabled investigators to reconstruct how the trafficking ring worked and to identify those involved in the organization. 

The traffickers had reportedly been in contact with the Ikponwmasa sisters, who have lived in Italy for a long time. The sisters allegedly forced the young Nigerian women and girls to sell their bodies, using voodoo rituals as a threat. Naomi Ikponwmasa had previously been sentenced on the same charges.

The victims have been taken to protected communities.

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