Man, 35, Others to Face Court Trial for Trafficking Eleven Sierra Leoneans to Liberia
MONROVIA – In a significant stride towards combating human trafficking in Liberia, Yacouba Sawadogo, a 35-year-old man, along with two accomplices, has been arrested, charged, and sent to court for their involvement in trafficking eleven Sierra Leoneans to Liberia, falsely promising them a path to Canada for better opportunities.
In a recent legal precedent, Arthur Chan-Chan, an officer of the National Security Agency (NSA), received a 25-year prison sentence for trafficking two Liberian women to Oman.
Liberian law takes a severe stance against human trafficking, carrying prison terms ranging from 20 to 25 years, coupled with victim resettlement if the accused are found guilty.
Sawadogo, along with his associates Foday Kabia and Ibrahim Sorie Bangura, who are currently charged in absentia, are the latest individuals to face a court trial after being accused of the heinous crimes of human trafficking and criminal conspiracy.
On August 15, Yacouba Sawadogo was arrested at his Barnersville residence. He was informed of his constitutional rights, subjected to investigation, and subsequently charged alongside his two alleged accomplices. The charges brought against the defendants fall under Section 2 A and B and 10.4 of Liberia’s new Human Trafficking Act and Penal Law.
Similar to other trafficking cases, where numerous victims were deceived and coerced, the eleven victims, namely Amin Toure, Fatumata Sesay, Cecelia Kargbo, Abdul Bangura, Abass F. Kanu, Hassan A. Kargbo, Hassan Sesay, Amindu Conte, Bangura O. Alien, Ibrahim S. Kamara, and Foday O. Bangura, were lured from Sierra Leone to Liberia with the false promise of a pathway to Canada for work and a better life.
At the defendants’ Kebbah Q-net office in Barnersville, each victim was coerced into paying US$1000. Subsequently, they were held in isolation and under the control of Q-net, a company allegedly involved in fraudulent and criminal activities.
Police reports indicate that the victims never reached Canada as promised. Instead, they were manipulated into recruiting two more individuals each, under the pretense of increasing their potential earnings. Additionally, the victims were denied refunds by the defendants.
Testimonies from the victims shed light on the deceitful nature of the operation. Amin Toure shared his experience, recounting how he was enticed by promises of travel to Canada for a better future. However, after arriving in Monrovia, he found himself trapped in a web of deception and forced to recruit others in a futile attempt to secure his own journey.
“Since I came, I have not travel, but they told me to bring two other persons to join the program so I can earn more money for myself,” Toure said.
Another victim, Fatumata Sesay, detailed how she was similarly duped by the defendants. Upon arriving in Liberia, she handed over US$1000 for document processing, only to realize that the promised opportunity was nothing more than an elaborate scam.
“I gave Yacouba US$1000 for all the documents for the program and up to present I have not travel and my money is still with them,” Fatumata Sesay told Police.
After a thorough investigation, Yacouba Sawadogo and his accomplices were officially charged with human trafficking and criminal conspiracy. The charges encompassed allegations of recruitment, transportation, deception, and exploitation of the victims. They were accused of extracting US$1,000 from each victim by falsely representing a travel opportunity that their organization, Q-net, did not actually provide.
When taken into custody, Yacouba Sawadogo was informed of his Miranda rights but opted to remain silent, choosing not to respond to the allegations leveled against him. He has since been remanded to prison, awaiting trial.