SSS pa­rades priest, tra­di­tional ruler over child theft

Daily Trust - - NEWS - From Patrick Odey,Uyo

A tra­di­tional ruler, Chief Uchenna Onyekaozuru and a Catholic priest with St. Peters Par­ish, Anam­bra State, Joseph Okono, were among the 20 people ar­rested and pa­raded by the State Se­cu­rity Ser­vice (SSS), Akwa Ibom State, over child theft.

SSS Deputy Di­rec­tor of Op­er­a­tions in the state, Mr. Fubara Duke, who briefed jour­nal­ists, said eight chil­dren have been re­cov­ered and are in the process of be­ing re­united with their fam­i­lies.

He ex­pressed re­gret that crim­i­nals have re­sorted to child traf­fick­ing, “when se­cu­rity agencies have al­most wiped out kid­nap­ping”.

He said about 50 chil­dren have been stolen and sold in the past eight months in the state.

“Our in­ves­ti­ga­tion led to the un­mask­ing of a ma­jor syn­di­cate that was ac­tu­ally in­volved in the buy­ing and sell­ing of these chil­dren,’’ he said.

He said the syn­di­cate op­er­ates un­der a car­tel with their king­pin, ab­duc­tors and fa­cil­i­ta­tors, who are mostly oper­a­tors of Mother­less Ba­bies Homes, women af­fairs of­fi­cers and agents. It was gath­ered a child sells for be­tween 450,000 and N700.000.

One of the sus­pects and the priest of St. Peters Catholic Church, Okono Joseph, in an in­ter­view with our cor­re­spon­dent, said women who do not have chil­dren come to him for prayers.

“When they come to me, I di­rect them to mother­less ba­bies homes, af­ter which they will come back and give me a gift rang­ing from N20,000 to N25,000. That was how I was ar­rested,’’ he said.

The tra­di­tional ruler, Chief Uchenna Onyekaozuru, on his part, said he has been in the trade since 2012 and that he has ben­e­fited noth­ing from it. He ad­mit­ted that he had bought and sold over 12 chil­dren since he joined the trade

“I have ben­e­fited noth­ing from this thing apart from dis­grace and I re­gret it.

I started this busi­ness in 2012 and I have been in­volved in the sell­ing and buy­ing of 12 chil­dren. I was en­ticed to this busi­ness by women who had no chil­dren. My benev­o­lence led me into this shame­ful act,’’ he said.

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