A British hospital nurse who used ‘voodoo’ magic to traffic Nigerian prostitutes into Europe was jailed for 14 years on Wednesday.
The Nigerian politician, Josephine Iyamu, used a witch doctor to convince her victims they were under her control and exploited them to fund a lavish lifestyle including jaunts to Europe and £700 designer shoes.
The 51-year-old was a ringleader of an international human trafficking crime network and lived in a huge Nigerian mansion complete with a servants’ quarters.
Iyamu would make the vulnerable women undergo ‘Juju’ ceremonies which would involve them drinking blood containing worms and eating the heart of a chicken.
Iyamu was handed a 14-year jail sentence at Birmingham Crown Court on Wednesday, in the first case of its kind in the UK as she becomes the first British national prosecuted for Modern Slavery Act offences after trafficking victims outside the UK.
Passing sentence at Birmingham Crown Court, Judge Richard Bond told the Liberia-born nurse that her ‘vile’ offences had left the women in fear of their lives.
As Iyamu stared at the floor in the dock, Judge Bond told her she would have been fully aware of the dangers involved in a four-week land journey across the Sahara to Tripoli in Libya, followed by a sea voyage on inflatable boats.
Passing sentence, the judge told Iyamu: ‘Trafficking human beings is an ugly offence – it must always be dealt with severely by the courts to deter others from taking part in this vile trade.
‘You showed a complete disregard for the welfare of these women. You saw them not as living, breathing human beings but as commodities to earn you large sums of money.
‘All five of your victims had to be rescued from the boat they were on, before being put into a camp in Italy. You understood the potential dangers, you simply did not care.’
Iyamu charged each of her victims Euro 30,000 and Euro 38,000 to arrange for their travel to Europe – profiting from more than Euro 15,000 from one victim alone via wire transfers and cash payments.
The victims would then be forced to endure an arduous five day journey to the Libyan coast – which saw them shot at, ambushed and gang r*ped.
They would then catch an inflatable boat crammed with hundreds of people to Italy before being moved into Germany to work as prostitutes.
German police identified Iyamu as the ringleader of a Nigerian human trafficking operation after a brothel owner reported suspicions over one of his workers’ paperwork last January.
Iyamu and her husband, Efe Ali-Imaghodor, 60, were arrested at Heathrow Airport on August 24 last year after travelling back from Nigeria.
Police found her in possession of seven mobile phones and more than 30 SIM cards linked them to the German investigation.
Officers also discovered a piece of paper detailing a list of items needed as part of the ‘Juju’ ceremonies and another with telephone numbers of criminal associates.
Yesterday, Iyamu was convicted by a jury of five counts of arranging to facilitate travel of another person for exploitation following a trial at Birmingham Crown Court.
She was also found guilty of perverting the course of justice after paying Nigerian police to arrest one of the victims’ relatives in a bid to stop the woman giving evidence against them in the trial while both were in police custody in the UK.
Iyamu, who was dressed in a turquoise shawl, held her hand to her mouth bowed her head as the verdict was read out.
Judge Richard Bond said: ‘This is the first case in England and Wales under the new 2015 act whereby people have been trafficked from one country into another country. This is going to set a precedent.’
Iyamu – known as ‘Madam Sandra’ – had worked 37 days in 2016/17 as an agency nurse in south east London hospitals for NHS Capitol Staffing Services. She lived with husband Ali-Imaghodor, a cloakroom attendant, in an ex-council home in Bermondsey, south east London.
Source: Dailymail UK