• Tuesday, April 23, 2024
businessday logo


Nigerian fugitive, Jeff Joy, sets infamous model in women’s month

Nigerian fugitive, Jeff Joy, sets infamous model in women’s month

In a month that beams the spotlight on women for outstanding feats in digital innovation and technology, Jeff Joy’s decades of efforts in trafficking young Nigerian women to Italy as commodities for prostitution has set an infamous example of how a woman should not lead on the international stage.

Jeff Joy whose true name is Charity Omoruyi is noted as one of the few women on the list of 100 dangerous fugitives, drawn up by the Integrated Interforce Group for the Search for Fugitives of the Central Directorate of Criminal Police, Department of Public Security in Italy.

The indigene of Egor Local Government Area of Edo State is considered an influential figure in the Nigerian mafia or black mafia, a group on the rise internationally as one of the most powerful criminal organisations due to its dangerousness and the vast network on which it operates.

According to the Flying Squad of Ancona investigations, Jeff Joy played a key role in aiding the movement of girls from Nigeria to Italy Holland and Spain for prostitution, using violence and threats also targeted at family members at home.

A judgment delivered by the Court of Assizes of Appeal of Ancona in June 2012, had convicted Omoruyi in absentia for the crimes of human trafficking, exploitation for prostitution, slavery, and abetting of unlawful migration. She was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment.

But she escaped to Nigeria when a warrant for her arrest was issued and was placed on Interpol Red Notice.

The fugitive was arrested in Nigeria June 4 last year with the support of Nigeria’s Department of State Services (DSS) and the Italian Immigration experts in Nigeria, after a formal request for her extradition in May 2022, by the Italian authorities.

The extradition procedure, launched immediately. A remand order was issued for her transfer to the Nigeria Correctional Centre, Suleja, pending the finalisation of the extradition process by the Federal Ministry of Justice.

The decision to hand over Jeff Joy to Italy was made official on the occasion of the meeting that took place on February 10 between the Abubakar Malami, Nigeria’s Minister of Justice and Stefano De Leo, Italian Ambassador.

It was also facilitated by Article 12 of the Extradition Treaty between the Government of the Italian Republic and the Federal Republic of Nigeria, signed in Rome in November 2016.
The delivery procedure ended March 7 with Jeff Joy’s arrival at the Roman airport of Ciampino and transfer to the women’s Rebibbia prison.

The delivery of the criminal marks progress in relations between Italy and Nigeria, being the first pilot case in the implementation of the extradition treaty which entered into force in 2020.

Read also: IWD 2023: KloverHarris harps on innovative technology in promoting gender equality

Unending cycle

There is no comprehensive data on human trafficking in Nigeria, but it is routinely listed as one of the countries with the largest number of trafficking victims overseas, particularly in Europe, a report by the Human Rights Watch shows.

Nigerian trafficking victims were identified in at least 34 countries in four regions in 2018, according to the US State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
The Walk Free Foundation, an organisation that works to end modern-day slavery, ranked Nigeria 32 out of 167 countries in their 2018 Global Slavery Index on prevalence of modern slavery, which by their definition includes human trafficking.

It noted that Nigeria, together with the Democratic Republic of Congo, had the highest absolute number of trafficked victims, and the two countries accounted for over one-quarter of all victims of modern-day slavery in the African region.
Walk Free Foundation estimated that Nigeria has more than 1.3 million people living in modern slavery.

The numbers of “potential” Nigerian trafficking victims in Italy has shot up in recent years, according to International Organisation for Migration (IOM), which in 2017 reported a 600 percent increase in the number of potential sex trafficking victims arriving in Italy by sea, with most victims arriving from Nigeria.

IOM estimated that 80 percent of girls arriving from Nigeria, whose numbers had soared from 1,454 in 2014 to 11,009 in 2016, were potential victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation in the streets and brothels of Europe.

According to the 2018 and 2019 US Trafficking in Persons Reports (US TIP Reports), most Nigerian trafficking victims in Europe come from Edo State, typically via Libya.

There is also no comprehensive, reliable data on the number of smuggled migrants from Nigeria.

However, some information is available on estimated numbers of smuggled migrants along certain routes. In 2017, a former Nigerian Permanent Representative to the United Nations said that in 2016 alone, 602,000 Nigerians tried to migrate to Europe via the Sahara Desert. A large number of them died during the journey.

Nigeria was ranked a “Tier Two”, down from “Tier Two Watchlist” country in the 2019 US TIP Report, meaning that it does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking although it is making progress.

The progress noted in the report relates to increased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts.

However, ring leaders like Jeff Joy are still out there, bringing disrepute to the individual efforts of women to achieve gender equity in positive light.