Man 'used witchcraft to traffic children' for prostitution

Nigerian accused of recruiting orphans using 'juju' rituals to ensure obedience

An alleged people trafficker cut the chest of a vulnerable 14-year-old girl with a razor during a series of "juju" witchcraft rituals aimed at terrifying young recruits into silence before selling them into prostitution across Europe, a court heard yesterday.

Osezua Osolase recruited and raped impoverished young Nigerian orphans and forced them to undergo West African rituals in which hair, nails and blood were removed to "cast a spell" over them and ensure their obedience, Canterbury Crown Court was told.

Mr Osolase, a Nigerian living in Northfleet, Kent, told one of three young victims – who overheard him trying to sell her off for €70,000 – that he had been bringing girls into Britain for 15 years, the court heard.

The 42-year-old then used a series of fake identities, addresses and falsified passports for the trafficked girls and escorted them on budget airlines to cities in Europe to work in the vice trade, said Ms Sarah Ellis, prosecuting.

The court heard that Mr Osolase, posing as a man named Victor, picked up one homeless 16-year-old girl sleeping rough in Lagos and took her to a "place of witchcraft" in the city to establish his control over her.

The teenager – who had been promised an education in Britain – was given a mixture consisting of what appeared to be blood and cloth and told to bathe in it and wrap the cloth around her. As "Victor" watched, a man cut hair from her armpits, some of her finger and toenails and took blood from her hand, said Ms Ellis.

She was told that the body parts taken in the ritual would be used to find and kill her if ever she tried to run away or failed to repay "Victor", the court heard.

"Those rituals are very much about invisible power. They involved the use of objects in order to curse or cast a spell. They are intended to terrify," said Ms Ellis. "They [the body parts] are thought to embody the essence of the owner. When taken, they will allow control at whatever distance."

The jury was shown pictures of the 14-year-old girl, who said that Mr Osolase cut her chest and shoulders with a razor and rubbed black powder into the wounds after she was brought to Britain. "It meant she was carrying the curse inside her," said Ms Ellis.

The teenager was ordered to make an oath of loyalty to Mr Osolase, which if she broke would mean she would not have children, go mad and die, the court heard. The rituals were "an effort to ensure that they would do as they were told … and would never reveal the truth about what really happened to them for fear of death or serious harm," said Ms Ellis.

Mr Osolase was said to have recruited some of the girls from his home country. The court heard that three girls were brought to Britain where he kept them under lock and key and sexually abused them, the court heard. One girl overheard Mr Osolase on the telephone apparently haggling with someone over payment.

The court heard that Mr Osolase had a "double life" married to a German woman – which allowed him freedom to travel across Europe – while also having a Nigerian partner. He had sought to escort the three girls, aged 14, 16, and 17, to Spain and Italy to work as prostitutes, Ms Ellis said. He was arrested twice at Stansted airport before they managed to leave the country, the court heard. Mr Osolase, a former security guard, denies charges that include trafficking, rape, and sexual assault. The trial continues.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk