The Anambra police have rescued a 15-year-old pregnant girl and eight children suspected to have been stolen from different Nigerian states.
The police have arrested a five-member gang of a child stealing/trafficking syndicate operating in the state.
In a statement released Tuesday, September 15, Haruna Mohammed, the spokesperson of Anambra police command, said on Sunday, September 13, police detectives attached to Onitsha Area Command received an intelligence report on the illicit activities of members of the syndicate.
“In collaboration with the Command’s State Intelligence Bureau (SIB), the police detectives arrested five members of the syndicate,” he said.
The suspects are a 40-year-old Mrs Joy Lazarus of 138 Urata area Aba, Abia State; a 22-year-old Janet Gideon of 12 Irete Street, Owerri, Imo State; 26-year-old Gideon Bobby Godspower of Port Harcourt, Rivers State; 26-year-old Wisdom Ndubuisi of Chokosho Village, Port Harcourt, Rivers State and 29-year-old Chukwudima C. Nwogu of 138 Uranta area, Aba, Abia State.
Haruna said the suspects specialise in child-snatching, child stealing, and trafficking from different parts of the country especially South East and South-South Geo-political zones.
”Preliminary Investigation revealed that the children (five boys and three girls) were stolen from Rivers, Bayelsa, Imo, Abia and Anambra States both at gun points and through stealing after which they were sold to the kingpin in Abia State,” he said.
Haruna said upon interrogation, the suspects voluntarily confessed that they usually stole the children and brought to their sponsor, Mrs. Joy Lazarus of Uranta in Abia State who allegedly bought the children at the rate of between N200,000 and N400,000 depending on their age and gender.
He added that further investigation revealed that in addition to child stealing and trafficking, Mrs. Joy Lazarus also lured underage girls into having pregnancy after which she would buy the children from them immediately after delivery.
According to him, eight children of various age brackets were rescued from the syndicates including a year-and-half-old baby recently snatched from the parents at gunpoint in Orlu, Imo State as well as a 15-year-old pregnant girl.
The police spokesperson said the children are in protective care and would be handed over to the social welfare department for custodial care, adding that the suspects would be arraigned in court soon.