How we use sick chil­dren to make money –Sus­pect

Daily Trust - - NEWS - From Eu­gene Agha, La­gos

Po­lice de­tec­tives at­tached to the Area E Com­mand, La­gos, have ar­rested six mem­bers of a gang that spe­cial­izes in us­ing chil­dren suf­fer­ing from var­i­ous ail­ments to so­licit funds from mem­bers of the pub­lic.

Though, lead­ers of the gang are presently on the run, the op­er­a­tives res­cued a twoyear-old girl suf­fer­ing from cancer of the eyes from the gang. The king­pin of the gang iden­ti­fied as Sa­muel Epen­dun has been de­clared wanted by the po­lice in La­gos. In his con­fes­sional state­ment, one of the sus­pects, Chuk­wuka Eze, said he aban­doned his cart push­ing busi­ness for the ‘lu­cra­tive arms beg­ging busi­ness.’

“I was mak­ing small amount of money from cart push­ing un­til I met my mas­ter, Sa­muel Ekpendu, who told me we could make a lot of money by us­ing chil­dren suf­fer­ing from ail­ments such as cancer, epilepsy etc to so­licit for alms from mem­bers of the pub­lic. We don’t use blind kids be­cause people don’t re­spond to blind per­sons. We go to re­mote vil­lages in the East to search for chil­dren with se­ri­ous dis­eases that can move people. We were lucky to get two-year-old Chi­nasa, who has cancer of the eyes and mouth. We found her at Ok­ija in Anam­bra State and we con­vinced the par­ents that we were work­ing for a Non­Govern­men­tal-Or­gan­i­sa­tion which cares for the sick and the girl’s fa­ther al­lowed the child and mother to go with us. We took them to Onit­sha, where we lodged in ho­tels. We made so much money but be­fore people could start sus­pect­ing us, we moved to Imo State and from there, we moved to other places such as Uyo, Cal­abar, Abaka­liki down to La­gos,” he said.

He added: “We were mak­ing an aver­age of N30,000 ev­ery­day and we were pay­ing the money into our di­rec­tor’s ac­count. There is a lot of money in the busi­ness be­cause we were pay­ing N6,000 daily as ho­tel ac­com­mo­da­tion and we were giv­ing the child’s mother N1,000 ev­ery­day for feed­ing. Our di­rec­tor also bought a mo­tor­cy­cle for our vic­tim’s fa­ther and sends him monthly stipend. I am very sorry for join­ing the gang; if I am set free, I will not go back to the busi­ness.”

La­gos State po­lice spokesper­son, Ngozi Braide, who pa­raded the sus­pects said po­lice ar­rested the sus­pects fol­low­ing a com­plaint from the na­tional co­or­di­na­tor of a Non Gov­ern­men­tal Or­gan­i­sa­tion, The Hands that Care Foun­da­tion, Jac­inta Oko­rie.

Braide said the gang spe­cialised in go­ing to re­mote vil­lages ton search for chil­dren with se­ri­ous ail­ments.

“What they do is that they con­vince the par­ents of these chil­dren, mak­ing fake prom­ises and pledg­ing to give them med­i­cal aid in the city. When they even­tu­ally bring the chil­dren to the cities, they use them to beg for money on the streets and en­rich them­selves. They do not ren­der the med­i­cal aid as promised. The woman here and her child are vic­tims. Her baby was di­ag­nosed of cancer of the eye,” she said.

She said the sus­pects would be charged for child traf­fick­ing, con­tem­po­rary slav­ery among oth­ers.

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