By Ajibola Abayomi,
Like many Nigerian youths seeking to eke a living, Chika Adaneze Nwoadu, an Oguta, Imo State born 23 years old lady eventually made her way to Baghdad the capital of Iraq on March 15, 2020 with passport number A10438900.
She arrived on that fateful day in the company of 14 other ladies on the same mission after meeting all the required conditions of an agent who connected her to work in the country as a housemaid.
Chika was happy to have been engaged after years of seeking employment as a Senior Secondary School Certificate (SSCE) holder since 2017.
“When I left secondary school, I wanted to further my studies but my parents don’t have the capacity. I also wanted to be a fashion designer but the opportunity never came until one of my relatives in Saudi Arabia linked me with an agent that facilitated my traveling to Iraq in March this year, ”she began her story when encountered by the Journalists International Forum For Migration (JIFORM).
Although she was lucky to have left Nigeria before the government imposed a ban on international travel owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chika experienced her own lock down in Iraq as she was kept indoors all day while on duty as housemaid.
All the physical and medical examinations she went through revealed no symptom of pregnancy before assuming duty with the Rosellen Beauty Center, the parent company that engaged her in Iraq before deploying her elsewhere as housemaids alongside others.
Suddenly, the music changed in August while making an appeal for urgent rescue from an apartment she was kept by the company in Iraq.
She was broken and lamented: “Please help me. I want to get out of this country, I am not feeling fine with my pregnancy.”
How did she come about the pregnancy, and who was responsible? Chika opened up.
“I came to Iraq on March 15, 2020 to work as a house maid. Both tests I did in Nigeria and Iraq didn’t show that I was pregnant.
“In April, I was expecting my period but it did not come. I decided to discuss with other girls we came together and they were suggesting maybe it was due to the changing of environment and believed that my period would be restored.
“Till the end of May, I didn’t see nor experienced my menstrual cycle. I started vomiting. I couldn’t eat or do anything so I told my madam about it. She took me for test and the result came out the next day revealing that I was pregnant. Not satisfied again, she took me to another hospital for a scan and it revealed that I was three months pregnant.”
Afterwards, her mistress refused all pleas to make her continue with the $300 monthly pay and made real her decision by dumping her with the company after terminating her employment.
To make the matter worse, the Nigerian agent that facilitated her journey abroad had blocked Chika’s number and exited her from the Whatsapp platform she created for the 15 ladies minutes they landed in Iraq.
The agent, one Mrs Shakirat:“I met her through my brother’s friend who lives in Saudi Arabia. She was the one that connected me to her.
“We met at Ayobo in Lagos but I cannot remember the address of her house. I paid N100, 000 to the woman that directed me to Mrs Shakirat and I also paid 70k for my clearance at the airport. They did not allow us to see the immigration officer on duty.”
Unlike some other cases, Chika confirmed that she was neither raped nor molested while on duty by her host and proceeded on the trip with consent of her parents and fiancé.
That was the situation before JIFORM stepped him to engage an Arab interpreter to mount pressure on her employer who suddenly back tracked on her upkeeps and lately became unfriendly.
Apparently disturbed about inquiries being made by JIFORM and other findings with the security agencies in the country, the employer succumbed to pressure and bought a flight ticket dated September 4, 2020 to airlift the Nigerian migrant back home, days ago.
While still being kept by the parent company at a location, Chika told our correspondent that she now enjoys a good relationship with her Iraqi allies.
Both her dad, Mr Lawrence Nwaodu and finance, Stephen Ugo, were high in spirit having being briefed about the development and thanked JIFORM and others who assisted the expectant mother.
The elated father said she looked forward to receiving her daughter soon.
“Let me thank you for your efforts. My daughter had put me on notice that you were going to call. For now everything is fine and I look forward to reuniting with my daughter”.
Won’t Chika go back to Iraq to complete her two years contract after being delivered of her baby?
Her answer was no, but why?
“I am now ready to stay and work at home. I am interested in becoming a tailor. All the money I made was sent home for the upkeep of my father and to pay for my rented apartment in Ikorodu, Lagos.
“I was born and brought up in Lagos and hope to be with my fiancé soon to continue with our lives. We shall be staying together.
A statement released on the JIFORM website on the matter stated thus:
“We consider the role we have played on Chika Nwoadu’s matters as our calling and responsibility being a media body. It was deliberate on our part not to raise alarm and caused the family to panic unduly, however, we are satisfied with the journalistic skills we had deployed to achieve this feat without hurting any of the parties.
“We commend the Nigerian Government’s commitment and response to distress calls by her citizens worldwide. Great work is being done by the Nigerians In Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) and other foreign missions.
“It is our belief that the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP) will lead other efforts to arrest and prosecute human traffickers exploiting millions of Nigerian youths by capitalising on their innocence.
“Our doors are always opened to consultation and collaboration aimed at serving humanity in order to further open the economic space for the empowerment of all segments of the society to stem all forms of irregular migration and unplanned journeys”.