SSS parades priest, traditional ruler over child theft
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.