Magazine article New African

The 'Slave Ship' and 'Mr Unlucky. (around Africa - Nigeria)

Magazine article New African

The 'Slave Ship' and 'Mr Unlucky. (around Africa - Nigeria)

Article excerpt

"I guess I'm unlucky, but that is my fate," said the Nigerian footballer, Jonathan Akpoborie, who plays for the German club, VFL Wolfsburg. He is said to own the "slave ship", MV Etireno, that hit international headlines in April, accused of carrying 250 child slaves from Benin bound for Gabon.

But when the ship finally berthed in Cotonou on 17 April, only 43 children were found on board, the rest of the passengers were adults -- and nobody's slaves.

Yet Akpoborie who runs the shipping line with his family, has been suspended indefinitely by his German club, until all issues related to the "child slaves" have been thoroughly investigated. He denies his company trafficks in child slaves.

But the club says it suspended Akpoborie, 32, "because of the high degree of credibility" of the organisations making the slavery allegations against his company, Titanic Investment Ltd, which runs a $500,000 shipping agency with two passenger ships based in Nigeria. According to German sources, the ships were bought in Denmark in 1998, but registered in Nigeria.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), one of the organisations that originally raised the alarm, still insists that the MV Etireno, now impounded in Benin, was engaged in child trafficking. …

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