By Favour Nnabugwu
A Nigerian woman by name, Joy Jeff who has been wanted in Italy since 2010, flown from Abuja to Rome where she had been sentenced in absentia to 13 years in prison for crimes including running a prostitution ring, Italian police has announced.
The 48-year-old Joy Jeff was one of the few women on Italy’s most-wanted list of 100 dangerous fugitives, police said in a statement on Wednesday, describing her as a prominent figure in the Nigerian mafia in Italy that is reputed for trafficking women and girls from Nigeria to Italy, where they force their victims to prostitution.
The extradition was facilitated by a treaty signed by Nigeria and Italy in 2020. She was arrested in Nigeria on 4 June 2022, on an international warrant issued by Italy, the statement said.
Joy Jeff was arrested in Nigeria by the Department of State Services (DSS) at the end of an intense search operation in which the Nigerian police and Italian embassy officials in Abuja were actively involved. “The location of Joy Jeff is the result of the excellent cooperation ensured by the Italian immigration expert in Nigeria, who supported the action of the local police force to locate the place where the woman lived, testifying to the operational potential offered by the Italian network of security experts operating in 84 countries around the world,” a press statement by the Italian police said.
Italian investigators in the city of Ancona said Jeff played a leading role in trafficking women to Italy, Spain and the Netherlands, where they were forced into prostitution by violence and threats. According to the investigations carried out from 2006 to 2007, Jeff brought the girls from Nigeria to Europe and they were then initiated into the business of prostitution with the use of violence and threats of all kinds, extended also to their family members in Nigeria.
Video released by the Italian police showed the woman being flown from Abuja to Ciampino airport in Rome where she was taken away in a wheelchair by the police.
“Africa today is a strategic location when looking for fugitives and fighting organised crime,” said Vittorio Rizzi, an Italian police chief responsible for international coordination, the news agency Reuters reports.
The Italian police through the extradition action wants to send a strong message that their home country is also not safe for Nigerian criminals in Italy and that if they run back home, they will be caught and returned to Italy to face punishment for their crimes.