Two Nigerian women imprisoned for human trafficking

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Alicia Edosa (left) and Edith Engheghase imprisoned for human trafficking

Two Nigerian women were sentenced to five years and eight months and five years and one month in prison for running a prostitution ring out of the midlands, making them the first individuals in Ireland to be convicted of human trafficking.

Following a six-week jury trial in Mullingar Circuit Criminal Court in June, Alicia Edosa (45) and Edith Enoghaghase (31) were both found guilty of two charges of trafficking women across Ireland on dates between September 2016 and June 2018.

Edosa of Market Point, Mullingar, and Enoghaghase of Meeting House Lane, Mullingar, were both found guilty of a single charge of arranging prostitution as well as a number of money laundering charges.

Omonuwa Desmond Osaighbovo, Enoghaghase's spouse, was also found guilty of four money laundering charges.

All three defendants had pleaded not guilty to a total of 63 charges.

Judge Francis Comerford sentenced Edosa to five years and eight months in prison on Tuesday, retroactive to April 14, 2019, when she was originally arrested for offences under the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008.

For the same offences, Judge Comerford sentenced Enoghaghase to five years and one month in prison, retroactive to her conviction on June 10, 2021.

The offences, according to Judge Comerford, did not include the women being trafficked into Ireland, but rather the control exerted over them once they arrived when the victims had become "indentured slaves."

“They coerced the victims into a sustained and degrading period of prostitution, which did great harm to all victims for financial gain,” the judge said.

He said that the two accused exploited vulnerable women who had no choice but to accept their victimization before finding the strength to break free.

Judge Comerford stated that he did not necessarily feel international trafficking was a more serious crime because the nature of the coercion, the goal of the trafficking, and the harm done to the victims and society were all relevant components in the defendants' offenses.

The judge did acknowledge, however, that the Edosa and Enoghaghase were more of a "more a cottage industry than being part of a tightly controlled criminal organisation."

He also stated that there was a stronger need for control of services that allow for the advertisement of prostitutes.

Both women were sentenced to 16 months in jail for prostitution and 20 months in prison for money laundering, to be served consecutively.

Because of the increased number of money laundering offences, Edosa received an extra 20-month consecutive sentence.

Edosa continued to assert her innocence and claimed that the victims had manufactured false claims against her in order to preserve their right to remain in Ireland, according to the court.

Four women testified that they were pushed into prostitution in Ireland after participating in a voodoo rite in their home Nigeria, in what the prosecution described as a "tragic" example of exploitation.

One lady said she was forced to extract the heart of a chicken as part of a ceremony in which they were made to promise they would not attempt to flee or speak to garda once in Ireland – or risk damage to themselves and their family.

The victims also presented graphic evidence of long, arduous travels from their country to Ireland, which included stops in North Africa and Southern Europe.

They had all travelled to Ireland with the expectation of working as shop clerks but were instead compelled to work as prostitutes in Limerick, Cork, Galway, Castlebar, Navan, Athlone, Letterkenny, Cavan, and Dundalk, among other places.

The women were informed they owed the defendants between €35,000 and €60,000 for helping them plan their trip to Ireland.

One of the women who had been trafficked and forced into prostitution by Edosa claimed that she had attempted suicide as a result of her ordeal.

“I suffered badly from what Alicia did,” the lady said in a victim impact statement read out by DPP counsel Fiona Murphy SC.

She added:

“I hated the life Alicia made me live that I tried to kill myself. I lost my pride as a woman. I feel ashamed. It is not the way I wanted to live.”

When guys invited her out on dates, she stated she was suddenly terrified.

“Alicia was the worst person to ever come into my life,” she said.

The other woman Edosa trafficked said she earned €46,000 "with my sweat and blood" but received not "even a dine," while continuing to endure health issues as a result of her prostitution.

“The wounds inflicted on me will never go away,” she said, noting that her experiences in Ireland had damaged her physically, intellectually, financially, and psychologically.

One of Enoghaghase's victims stated she still had scars on her chest from a voodoo ceremony when she was slashed with a razor blade.

The mother stated that she was convinced that the voodoo spell would kill both her and her kid. She added, "I was scared all the time and I still feel scared today."

She said that she was now unable to work due to depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The lady, who now resides in the United Kingdom, stated that she had lost faith in males and that she did not believe she could ever have another connection with a guy.

She also wondered if she would ever return to Ireland or Nigeria due to Enoghaghase's terror.

Another Nigerian lady trafficked by Enoghaghase claimed she was still shocked "when I think about the life I have lived."

The woman stated that she could no longer tolerate the thought of being touched by a male and that she felt uneasy in large groups.

Enoghaghase had deceived her and she had lost faith in humans. “I feel very angry and sad all the time,” she said.

Kenneth Fogarty SC, Edosa's lawyer, stated that his client was unable to accept the jury's decision.

Mr Fogarty described Edosa as one of eight children from a poor family who left Nigeria at the age of 11 to live with her elder sister, where she was raped by another family member.

Edosa, who had no prior convictions, arrived in Ireland in 2011 with her now-divorced Slovakian spouse and began working in prostitution in 2017 with Escorts Ireland after her residency permission to remain in Ireland had expired.

She was defined as a self-reliant lady who "who will do what is necessary to ensure her survival" and as "a friendly, respectful woman" in a psychiatric evaluation.

Séamus Clarke SC, Enoghaghase's lawyer, said his client was a mother of three small children, ages 11, 8, and 5, who relocated to Ireland in 2006.

Enoghaghase was placed in foster care between 2007 and 2008, according to Mr Clarke, after being discovered working as a teenage prostitute in Sligo.

She then went to Dublin, where she met her spouse, and the two married in 2014, settling in Mullingar.

Mr Clarke, pleading for mercy because Enoghaghase would lose her job as a primary caregiver for her children, noted that his client, who has no prior convictions, was a victim of human trafficking as a young girl.

Garda Detective The garda inquiry began in May 2018 when two of the victims filed official complaints at Store Street Garda station, according to Niall Stack.

After garda searched their homes in April 2019, Edosa and Enoghaghase were arrested and questioned but made no admissions during 15 interviews.

Osaighbovo was sentenced to two years and three months in prison for money laundering convictions after suffering gunshot wounds during a visit to Nigeria in January 2018, necessitating the amputation of his left thumb.

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