The Imo State Police Command has arrested a young woman for child trafficking while rescuing five children kidnapped by a dreaded child trafficking syndicate operating in Imo State.
The children were rescued unhurt.
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Rabiu Ladodo, who reunited one of the children with his family on Friday, said his command would continue its crackdown on criminals in the state.
Ladodo said: “On April 24, one Immaculata Edward, a native of Okonde in Cross River State, who is a girlfriend to one Ifara Isong, resident at Eziama Logara in Ngor Okpala Local Government Area, visited the said boyfriend.
“Because she was familiar and well-known in the area, and the children and the neighbours of her boyfriend were all fond of her, they left the children in her custody while they went about their business.
“The said Immaculata waited for when her boyfriend went out to buy something, then she took the five children, namely Somto Ekeh, Kelechi Ekeh, Chisom Ekeh, Ebuka Enwerem, Chioma Enwerem and Lucky Idah, all children of one Reginald Ekeh. She took them to a notorious child trafficker, one Perpetual Iwuji, from Obokwu Ulakwo in Owerri North LGA, who then sold two of the children to one Grace Nwachukwu, another notorious child trafficker, who hails from Isiala Mbutu in Aboh Mbaise LGA but resident at Mpape Abuja.
“Immaculata also kidnapped two of her uncle’s children from Cross River State and sold them to one Ifeoma Ndubuisi from Lokpanta in Umunneochi LGA, Abia State.
“However, following intelligence, systematic, thorough and painstaking investigation, all the children stolen from Logara were recovered.
“Moreover, in the course of the investigation, an additional five children were recovered from Perpetual Iwuji and kept in an orphanage.
“The five children stolen from Logara have been reunited with their families.
“Meanwhile, one of the two children stolen from Cross River State has been recovered from Ifeoma Ndubuisi and efforts are in top gear to recover the remaining one”.
The commissioner of police further disclosed the name of the culprit the as; Perpetual Iwuji, Isong Ifara, Immaculate Edward, Grace Nwachukwu, Ifeoma Nduchukwu and Stephen Ezenwa.
However, the Nigeria Police Force, Eket Police Division, has said it arrested one Rev Akpan of Qua Iboe Church and five others for allegedly swindling over 300 applicants of N32,000 each, running into about N10m, in Ikot Ebok village, Eket Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
The applicants were defrauded by the suspects under the pretext of securing employment for them in an oil company.
Akpan, who claimed to be a pastor in the church, was arrested on Wednesday along with the other suspects within the church premises along Ekpeyo Street, off Liverpool Road Eket, based on intelligence.
It was gathered that the suspects were conducting fake interviews for the affected youths when the police arrested them.
A youth leader of the community Mr. Ubong Edoho, who confirmed the arrest, said he immediately alerted the police when he saw a crowd of applicants gathered for the said recruitment.
The suspected fraudsters had told the unsuspecting applicants about openings in one of the oil companies located in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The youth leader on Friday disclosed that it was discovered that the pastor and his syndicate had collected N32,000 from each person before issuing them fake employment forms to fill, preparatory for departure to an unknown offshore location for the job.
He added: “The incident happened here within the premises of Qua Iboe Church, Ekpeyo Street, Ikot Ebok in Eket Local Government Area. We had intelligent information that there are some people in the church compound defrauding some unemployed youths. I informed the police as I went to Eket Police Station with my friends and reported it to the Police Surveillance Team.
“On inquiries, we discovered that they had collected N32,000 from each person. We informed other youth leaders in the area and we resolved that this kind of fraudulent activity should not happen in our village and the police whisked them away to Eket Police Station, where they were interrogated.”
Edoho said the syndicate claimed before the Divisional Police Officer in Eket that they were authorised by an oil company to recruit personnel for work, but failed to produce relevant documents to justify their claims.
“There was no originating document from any oil company to show that they were working for any oil firm. I was with the DPO in his office in Eket and we could not find any paper to prove what they claimed and the police detained them,” he concluded.
Edoho further disclosed that the syndicate had defrauded people at Afaha Eket, Ikot Ekpene and Eastern Obolo through their nefarious activities.
Edoho was surprised on how people could use the name of a church to commit such a crime and not be bothered by the consequences.
The Police Public Relations Officer in Akwa Ibom State, Odikko Macdon, , said though he had not been briefed on the matter, the police would thoroughly investigate the matter to establish the facts of the case and bring the culprits to justice.
“I don’t have that information at my disposal as at now. However, if there is anything like that going on, the police will leave no stone unturned in their bid to get to the root of the matter,” he said.