Officials of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons have arrested four persons including a federal civil servant based in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State on allegations of buying and selling of babies and conspiracy to commit a crime.
This was disclosed in a statement issued on Tuesday by the agency's Head, Press and Public Relations Unit, Stella Nezan.
According to the statement, the federal civil servant, Wilson Erurom and a middle-aged man, Marksoo Uzer, who works with First Fertility Hospital, Makurdi, Benue State, were arrested alongside two other culprits: Albert Motemi and Gabriel Gav.
They were arrested alongside an intending buyer, who was picked up by men of the Department of State Services after a failed transaction.
The statement read, “The federal civil servant, Mrs. Wilson Erurom and another middle-aged man, Mr Marksoo Uzer, an employee of First Fertility Hospital, Makurdi Benue State, Albert Motemi and Gabriel Gav were arrested in Makurdi, the Benue State capital through the combined effort of operatives of the agency and the Department of State Services.
“During interrogation, the woman who was the intending buyer, stated that she linked up with the suspect after listening to an advertorial in one of the broadcast stations in Yenagoa in which the man boasted of assisting people to get children either through in-planting, in-vitro fertilisation or outright adoption.
“She explained that because age was not on her side, she preferred outright adoption of infant and she subsequently paid the sum of N500, 000 for the purpose.
“According to her, after the safe delivery of the baby in question, she received a call from the man urging her to come to Makurdi for the baby. The woman was quoted as saying: "By the time I arrived, I lodged in one hotel and the following day when I saw the man, he told me that the ‘surrogate mother’ suddenly changed her mind. I did not know what happened and as I was trying to find my way back to Bayelsa State the following day, I was arrested by men of the DSS and handed over to NAPTIP."
The statement continued, “Investigation revealed that the principal suspect in the case, Mr Marksoo Uzer, who is suspected to have been involved in such illegal dealings in the past, had promised an officer of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) a baby after collecting the sum of N950, 000 and refusing to give her the baby.
“In his confession, the principal suspect in the case and employee of one of the popular fertility hospital in Makurdi who regretted his action attributed the development to the financial pressure brought about on him by the health challenge of his wife.”
Reacting to the development, Director General of NAPTIP, Imaan Sulaiman Ibrahim, commended the inter-agency collaboration existing between NAPTIP and the DSS as demonstrated in the prompt referral of the case.
Ibrahim, thereafter, urged Nigerians to always ensure due process is followed when confronted with issues of child adoption.
The NAPTIP boss also promised that the case will be thoroughly investigated and taken to court.