A member of the Vigilante Group of Nigeria, Ikorodu branch, Rasheed Salau, who allegedly trafficked a schoolgirl to Burkina Faso, says he was paid N15,000.
The Sagamu, Ogun State indigene, claimed that he was not aware that the 14-year-old would be turned into a sex worker.
He explained that he sent her to work with his mother, who owned a beer parlour in the West African country.
PUNCH Metro had reported that the schoolgirl, Risikatu Uthman, was declared missing after she followed a boyfriend on an outing in June 2018.
Although the boyfriend, a motor boy, denied knowledge of her whereabouts, he was arrested and arraigned in court.
After about two months, Risikatu was brought home by a Good Samarithan, who found her in Cotonou, Benin Republic.
Risikatu had told our correspondent that as she was returning home, she was abducted by Rasheed, who claimed to be a policeman.
She alleged that together with eight other girls, they were trafficked to Burkina Faso, where they were forced into prostitution.
The 14-year-old said she was rescued by the police and taken to the Nigerian embassy, from where she found her way back to Nigeria.
Policemen attached to the Ikorodu area command subsequently arrested the suspect.
During a chat with PUNCH Metro at the state police command headquarters in Ikeja on Tuesday, Rasheed said he was a member of the Vigilante Group of Nigeria, and a bricklayer.
He said, “I met her (Risikatu) at my friend’s place. I asked her why she left her parents’ house and she said her parents chased her away from home to look for work.
“I asked her what she wanted to do and she said she was not ready to return home. I showed her my grandmother’s shop and told her to see me later.
“She came the following day, but she did not meet me. Later, we met and I asked her what she wanted. She said she wanted to work.
“I asked if she could work at my grandma’s shop or in another country and she said she did not mind working outside the country. I told her that my mother ran a beer parlour in Burkina Faso and asked if she would assist her. She said there was no work she would not do. I did not force her. She was at my place for three days.”
When our correspondent asked how much his mother sent to him for the suspect, he said N15,000, adding that he used part of the money to buy clothes and shoes for Risikatu.
He denied that he abducted the victim with eight other young girls, saying the victim wanted to frame him for kidnapping.
Rasheed also said he did not know that his mother was into prostitution.
“She (Risikatu) was not held against her will. In fact, she followed my wife to her workplace and returned in the evening.
“She did not spend more than three days in Burkina Faso before the police arrested her because she left the place where she was working.
“I did not know that they were looking for her at home. I did not also know that her boyfriend was arrested over her disappearance,” he added.
The suspect’s father said he had been separated from the mother for over six years, adding that he was disgusted at the incident.
“I never knew about this incident until I was told that my son had been arrested and would be taken to court. I live in Agbado. His mother moved to Ikorodu and suddenly travelled to Burkina Faso. I don’t have her contact. After I waited for her for three years and did not see her, I remarried. I don’t know how he (Rasheed) got her phone number,” he said.
The grandma, who claimed to be a civil servant with the Lagos State Government, also said she last saw her daughter (Rasheed’s mother) five years ago.
Risikatu, while reacting to the suspect’s claim, insisted that she was trafficked along with other girls.
She identified a Yoruba girl among them as Aminat, adding that the others were indigenes of Delta and Edo states.
“He is lying. We were in his house and he locked us up,” she said.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Chike Oti, said the suspect would be arraigned at the end of investigation, adding that no stone would be left unturned.
By Samson Folarin, Punch