Belfast Telegraph

Man in court on forced labour charge

Osarobo Izekor, 33, is originally from Nigeria but with an address at Castlereagh Place in Belfast.

A Nigerian man has appeared in court in Belfast accused of forcing a woman to perform compulsory labour (Liam McBurney/PA)
A Nigerian man has appeared in court in Belfast accused of forcing a woman to perform compulsory labour (Liam McBurney/PA)

A man accused of forcing a woman to perform labour has appeared in court in Belfast on a “serious” human trafficking charge.

Osarobo Izekor, 33, is originally from Nigeria but with an address at Castlereagh Place in the east of the city.

The married father-of-two was the first person to be charged with such an offence in Northern Ireland.

It spanned the months between December 2016 and September 2017.

Izekor was accused of requiring another person to perform forced or compulsory labour.

A Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) detective constable said: “He is charged with a serious human trafficking offence.

“If found guilty he will face a lengthy custody sentence.”

The accused appeared in the dock at Belfast Magistrates’ Court in the city centre wearing a grey sweatshirt.

The police investigation has been ongoing for 16 months, a defence barrister told the court.

The detective said the investigation had been a “protracted” one due to issues encountered with human trafficking.

On Tuesday officers moved to arrest the suspect.

Izekor’s lawyer said his version of events was that he had allowed the alleged victim to live rent-free since she was relatively recently arrived in the UK.

His wife, from Sierra Leone, is a British citizen who has moved to Glasgow to be with her family while she is pregnant, the defence barrister said.

He has been offered a customer service position in the city, is seeking a tenancy on a property and is saving to buy a home, his counsel added.

The suspect was detained in east Belfast. A search was also carried out at a property and a number of documents and mobile phones were seized.

A 25-year-old woman, who was arrested in Scotland on Tuesday, has been transported back to Northern Ireland for questioning.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall refused bail and he was remanded in custody to May 29.

PA

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