Awka—Anambra State Police Command has rescued eight children, including a 15-year-old pregnant teenager stolen at gunpoint in different parts of the country.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Haruna Mohammed, said members of a five-member gang child trafficking syndicate behind the crime had been arrested.
The suspects, according to the PPRO, are Joy Lazarus ,40, of 138 Urata area Aba, Abia State; Janet Gideon, 22, of 12 Irete Street, Owerri, Imo State; Gideon Godspower, 26, of Port Harcourt, River State; Wisdom Ndubuisi, 26, of Chokosho Village, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, and Chukwudima Nwogu, 29, of 138 Urata Area, Aba, Abia State.
According to Mohammed, a preliminary investigation revealed that the children, five boys and three girls, were stolen from Rivers, Bayelsa, Imo, Abia and Anambra states, adding that they were sold to a kingpin in Abia State.
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He said: “Following intelligence report, police detectives attached to Onitsha Area Command, in collaboration with the command’s State Intelligence Bureau, SIB, arrested five members of child stealing/trafficking syndicate.
“The suspects specialise in child-snatching, child stealing and trafficking from different parts of the country, especially South-East and South-South geopolitical zones.
“Upon interrogation, the suspects voluntarily confessed that they usually stole the children and brought them to their sponsor, one Mrs. Joy Lazarus of Urata in Abia State, who allegedly buys the children at the rate of between N200,000 and N400,000 depending on their age and gender.
“Further investigation revealed that in addition to child stealing and trafficking, the same sponsor, Mrs. Joy Lazarus, also lured underage girls into becoming pregnant, then buy the children from them immediately after delivery.
“So far, eight children of various age brackets were rescued from the syndicate, including a one and half years old baby recently snatched from the parent at gunpoint in Orlu, Imo State, as well as a 15-old pregnant girl.”
He said an investigation was ongoing, after which the suspects would be prosecuted.
He explained that the children were in protective care and would be handed over to the social welfare department for custodial care.
The state Commissioner of Police, Mr. John Abang, has enjoined persons whose children were either stolen or missing to report at Onitsha Area Command to identify and claim their children.