By Chris RICHARDS, Abuja
No fewer than 20 infants and 13 others have been handed over to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in persons(NAPTIP), by the police in Abuja.
Both the infants and the others were apprehended by Police from Utako Police Division of the Federal Capital Territory(FCT) Police Command, Abuja on Saturday night, April 9, 2016, at Jabi Motor Park.
According to investigation by our reporter, 11 young ladies that were suspected to be fronting for unknown ritualists, were apprehended while trying to convey over eighteen infants from Abuja to Onitsha in Anambra State.
A source said when the eleven ladies who had the same size and height arrived the Motor Park that night, one approached park operators, and demanded for a bus travelling to Onitsha, and she was directed to where Onitsha bound buses were.
On getting to where the buses were, she wasted no time, and made payment for eleven persons at N2,000.00 per individual amounting to N22,000.00, as fares to the Eastern commercial city.
At this juncture, the source continued, “What we saw next was a beehive of children of almost the same age, and all sorts of shabby luggage they were intending travelling with. It was at this point we suspected that something was wrong somewhere, and promptly reported the matter to the Park Manager, Mrs. Chidi Ibeh, who immediately alerted the police and ordered for the refunds of their transport fares.
“When the police officers arrived, they conveyed all of them and their luggage to the Utako Police Station on some chartered Kekenapep tricycles, that’s all I know about the matter, the source concluded.
When the Park Manager, Mrs. Chidi Ibeh was contacted, she confirmed the incident, adding that the suspects and the babies, as well as their luggage were that same night transferred to the Utako Police who prompt took them to their Station.
She pointed out that the Divisional Police Officer ( DPO) and his Divisional Crime Officer( DCO) CSP Eze and Supol Florence respectively, led police team from Utako Police Division had taken over, and were already investigating the matter.
However, when nationalTRAIL visited the Utako station last Monday, a source informed that the case was that of human trafficking, as such, both the infants and their suspected traffickers were transferred to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in persons(NAPTIP), agency statutory charged with cases of such nature.
When on Wednesday April 13, 2016 nationalTRAIL visited the offices of NAPTIP at Wuse-Abuja, the Head of Press and Public Relations of the Agency, Mr. Josiah Emerole confirmed to our reporter that the Utako Police Station has transferred to NAPTIP a total number of 33 persons, comprising of 11 women, 20 children and 2 male suspects, while 1person according to the police is still at large.
Mr. Emerole stated that what the police called suspect in this case is not what NAPTIP regards as suspect since the women are truly the biological mothers of the babies in question, that they were victims as well. He maintained that the mothers and their children were actually victims of trafficking, but that they were currently in NAPTIP shelter, adding that though information about their mission is still very scanty, that investigators and counselors were taking care of them.
He added that for the time been, NAPTIP was able to gather, that someone who is now at large brought them from Onitsha under the pretext of taking them to an Abuja Church that is into “alms giving” and which the innocent and unsuspecting young women believed and followed the man to the said Church, located at Mpape, an Abuja suburb, where they were abandoned.
The NAPTIP spokesman also said that the agency was presently profiling them by tracing their various families through psychological and social therapy, adding that when their original families are traced, that the agency would hand them over to their parents and not motherless babies homes. “We don’t take any child to any motherless babies home from here, but to their real parents. We operate a temporary shelter, and an open one where they learn trade”, Emerole concluded.