Community, Diaspora and Immigration

A Couple and two others arrested for Child Trafficking

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NIGERIA – For Chibueze Mba and his 23-year-old wife, Adaeze, the saying ‘Blood is thicker than water’ truly held little or no meaning to them.

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Mr and Mrs Mba

The couple, who had been fingered in about three high profile child trafficking cases, had also sold off their unborn foetus who was due to be delivered in three months for N200,000.

Mba confessed to THISDAY that it was not his first attempt. In fact, selling his son two years ago was the beginning of his foray into child trafficking.

The couple alongside two other suspects: Benedicta Ogbuonwu (a dealer in stolen children and Patricia Anibogu, adoptive mother), were arrested by men of the Ilembe Police Division in Lagos State, led by the Divisional Police Officer, Ekepeghere Ibe, a Superintendent of Police (SP).

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Mrs Ogbonna and Patricia

The couple had abducted three children, two boys and a girl, whom they sold for N400,000 each and N300,000 respectively, before they were nabbed.

While four-year-old Stanley Eziaka was abducted two months ago and was adopted by Anibogu who was childless after 28 years of marriage, Promise and Goodluck Amaechi were abducted last year and were placed in illegal foster homes before they were adopted.

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Stolen kids

The well-oiled syndicate operated thus: the couple would kidnap the kids and then pass them on to the middleman, Benedicta, at an agreed rate. Benedicta will then sell the victims to one of the orphanages in Onitsha or to individuals at N600,000.

Narrating how he got entangled in the child-trafficking malaise two years ago, Mba said his journey began with his first girlfriend, Ojiugo. According to him, they were dating happily until she got pregnant.

He said: “When she got pregnant, I truly wanted to marry her but her father protested vehemently against our union. It was so bad that we fled to Rivers State.

“When I complained about my inability to take care of my pregnant girlfriend and myself, one of my friends, Dozie, came up with the idea of selling off the child when it was born. At first, I did not agree until Ojiugo pressured me.

“It was then he hooked me up with Benedicta and we discussed and agreed on the sum of N100, 000. She also told me to be on the lookout for women like Ojiugo or those stranded who could not take care of their babies. She promised to reward me handsomely.”

He continued, “First, she paid me N30,000 and then took in Ojiugo and took care of her till she delivered. Unfortunately, Ojiugo took the balance of our payment and disappeared. I was hooked.

“I officially began in September last year and it was the same time I married my wife. So far, we had succeeded in abducting and selling three children at the sum of N400,000 for boys and N300, 000 for the girl.”

Corroborating his story, his 23-year-old wife said she was the one that lured Eziaka into the crime after she had gone to the shop to buy some food.

She disclosed that they were forced to relocate to Akwa Ibom after they had abducted Eziaka. With the money realised from the shady business, she said the husband went into carpentry while she invested her share in trading in foodstuffs.

Anibogu said she was pushed into the nefarious act because of loneliness and frustration. According to her, she had been married for 28 years with no child.

On why she veered into selling children, Benedicta told THISDAY said she only took the children from the couple because they told her they got them from commercial sex workers.

Confirming the incident, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Ngozi Braide, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, said the suspects were serial child traffickers who abduct children from their parents and sell to the highest bidder.

She said: “On March 14, a case of missing person was reported at Ilembe Police Division by Mr. and Mrs. Caleb Eziaka.

“When writing their statements, the parents had disclosed that their four-year-old son had last been seen in company of their neighbours, Chibueze and Ada, but attempts to call their numbers proved abortive as they were switched off.”

Investigations continued and the couple were traced to Akwa Ibom where they were arrested. They confessed that they had sold the child to Benedicta at N400,000.

“When they disclosed the whereabouts of Benedicta, police moved to Onitsha and picked her up. During interrogation, she confessed that she resold Eziaka at N600,000 to Patricia 

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