Nigerian couple convicted of forced labour, faces 20 years in US prison

Adebari Oguntoye
Adebari Oguntoye

A Nigerian couple based in the United States has been convicted of forced labour by a federal jury in New Jersey and faces 20 years of imprisonment.

Isiaka Bolarinwa, 67, and Bolaji Bolarinwa, 50, who are both US citizens, were also found guilty of operating a coercive scheme to compel two victims to perform domestic labour and childcare in their home.

Speaking at the end of the trial on April 24, Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general, said the husband and wife lured the victims to the US with promises of a better life and an education but instead subjected them to hours of physical and psychological abuse.

“The defendants confiscated the victims’ passports, threatened them, degraded them, physically abused them, and kept them under constant surveillance, all to coerce the victims’ labor and ruthlessly exploit them for the defendants’ own profit,” Clarke said.

Isiaka Bolarinwa
Isiaka Bolarinwa

“Human trafficking is a heinous crime, and this verdict should send the very clear message that the justice department will investigate and vigorously prosecute these cases to hold human traffickers accountable and bring justice to their victims.”

According to the evidence presented at trial, including the testimony of two victims, the incident happened between December 2015 and October 2016.

“Once Victim 1 arrived in the United States in December 2015, Bolaji Bolarinwa confiscated her passport and coerced her through threats of physical harm to her and her daughter, verbal abuse, isolation, and constant surveillance to compel her to work every day, around the clock, for nearly a year,” the court heard.

“Isiaka was aware of his wife’s threats and abusive behavior toward Victim 1 and directly benefited from Victim 1’s cooking, cleaning, and childcare. The defendants then recruited Victim 2 to come to the United States on a student visa.

“When Victim 2 arrived in the United States in April 2016, Bolaji Bolarinwa similarly confiscated her passport and coerced her to perform household work and childcare but relied more heavily on physical abuse.

“On at least one occasion, Isiaka Bolarinwa also physically abused Vitim 2, and he was aware of his wife’s coercive, abusive behavior toward Victim 2 and directly benefited from her cleaning and childcare.”


The US Department of Justice (DOJ) said both victims endured the abuse until October 2016, when one of them (victim 1) summoned the courage to outcry to a professor at her college, who in turn, reported the targets to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Both defendants face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each forced labour count and a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for the alien harbouring count.

The DOJ added that they will also be required to pay mandatory restitution to the victims, and each faces a fine on each count of up to $250,000, or twice the gross gain or gross loss from the offence, whichever is greater.

A sentencing hearing will be scheduled at a later date.

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