The Aflao Circuit Court last Monday, sentenced Michael Lagbai, a Togolese, to 20 years imprisonment for human trafficking.
He pleaded not guilty.
The court, presided over by Ali Baba Abature, was told that Lagbai, 31, lured two brothers, aged 18 and 21, from Lome into Ghana and attempted to sell them at a shrine for GH¢80,000.
According to the prosecution, Lagbai, who hailed from Adetikope, near Lome, met his would-be victims on their way to school in Lome on June 9, this year and told them that a woman of a high social status in Ghana was looking for a young man to employ in her house.
The prosecution said Lagbai, unemployed, then produced the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) identity card of the supposed woman, which convinced the young men who were not aware that the health insurance identity card actually belonged to a woman who died a few years ago.
At that juncture, the prosecution said, the elder of the two brothers who was happy with Lagbai’s offer to recruit them for the job in Ghana, pleaded with him to recruit his younger brother as well.
The court heard that Lagbai agreed and promised to assist the two brothers to get the job in Ghana and also succeeded in collecting CFA 9,500 in addition to their certificates for that purpose.
The prosecution said Lagbai then travelled to Anyanui in Ghana to meet a herbalist under the pretext of seeking spiritual help for his ailing wife at the shrine.
In a stunning coincidence, the NHIA card Lagbai was using for his criminal act belonged to the herbalist’s late wife.
After the spiritual consultation, the herbalist asked Lagbai to go and bring his wife from Togo for treatment,the court heard.
Lagbai, however, returned to the shrine in the evening of the same day to tell the herbalist that he was after all not there for any spiritual consultation, but rather to offer the herbalist two young men for rituals in the shrine if the herbalist was interested.
“All that while, the herbalist had alerted the police,” the prosecution added.
The herbalist feigned interest in the offer for which Lagbai demanded GH¢40,000 for each of the men and told the Togolese to bring the men to him at a spot in Ho.
The prosecution said when Lagbai arrived in Ho on July 7, this year, with the men at about 3.30 p.m., the herbalist gave him part of the money he demanded and just then, the police closed in and arrested him.
The Togolese, according to the prosecution admitted the offence in his caution statement to the police.
The court said that although Lagbai pleaded not guilty, the prosecution had proved its case beyond doubt and therefore, convicted him.
From Alberto Mario Noretti, Aflao