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Nigerian couple jailed for smuggling a nanny into the U.S

Nigerian couple jailed for smuggling a nanny into the U.S 27 / March 2017

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Another Nigerian couple has been caught up in a nanny and servitude issue. The Nigerian couple, John and Godever Ibechem, were each sentenced to nine months in federal prison after they were found guilty of smuggling a Nanny into the U.S. from Nigeria. 

John Ibechem will start serving his time in 60 days. His wife will have custody of the boys until he's released and then she'll serve her nine months.

The nanny who worked for the Ibechem's said she left Nigeria for an opportunity to provide financial support for her orphaned nephews but her life in America didn’t turn out as she had expected. The Ibechems admitted they conspired to smuggle her into the U.S. The nanny had posed as Ibechem's deceased mother and used her passport to enter the country illegally. Although the family failed to pay her minimum wage in the U.S they sent money to the nanny's family in Nigeria.

The nanny said she was paid about $20 every two weeks for providing care for the couple's two sons and did cooking and cleaning for the house too. She said her health deteriorated from the stress but she couldn't get care or move out because she feared the Ibechems would kill her family. "I felt trapped. I thought I was going to die," she said in a letter read in federal court.

The nanny "essentially became a slave," the Judge said.

The judge could have given more prison time to the Ibechems but determined that the labour was not involuntarily coerced through threats. He said, while the nanny feared retaliation against her family, authorities had no proof of any actual threats against her or her family from her hosts. She also had her own key to the Ibechem's home and was free to walk around when she wanted.

With the help of a neighbour, she finnaly ran away from the Ibechems to get to a safe house.

The prosection said although she was free to leave the Ibechem home, she couldn't drive and had no friends to go to for help and she could not trust the police given the corruption that was a part of her native culture

The nanny said she got fed up with the situation when her health deteriorated and she was coughing up blood, suffered nosebleeds, severe stomach pains, weight loss and blotches on her skin. She admitted that the Ibechems took her to doctors and even to a hospital, but said they weren't willing to seek the help she felt she needed because she wasn't insured and they feared her illegal status would be discovered.

John Ibechem in his defence said, "I'm not one who would have somebody in my house and treat someone with indentured servitude. That's not my nature. That's not in my family's nature."