The Police Command in Lagos State has arrested a 50-year-old grandmother, Rita Eze, who allegedly sold a three-year-old girl to a child trafficking syndicate so that she could pay her house rent.
It was gathered that Augustine who claimed to be Mary John, had connived with one Samuel to abduct the three-year-old girl, Oluwasemilore Adebiyi, from her parents’ residence in the Alagbado area of Lagos.
According to Punch, Eze who was paraded alongside two other child traffickers, one Ogochi Nwekei and Gladys Augustine at the Command headquarters in Ikeja, confessed to being a member of a syndicate that abducted abducting children from the state and selling them in Anambra State and other parts of the southeast.
Augustine, a 28-year-old indigene of Cross River State, according to the police, had enrolled for a beads-making apprenticeship at the girl’s mother’s shop in January 2017, only to abscond with the victim one week later.
She was said to have handed the girl over to Eze who in turn sold her to one Elizabeth through Nwekei for N500, 000.
The victim was, however, recovered by the police after Augustine was arrested in the Badagry area of Lagos on February 23.
In the course of investigations, the police discovered that Augustine had used the same trick to abduct other children when some parents from different parts of the state identified her as the abductor of their children.
Augustine who denied abducting the children said Samuel had lied to her that he was the father of Oluwasemilore but that her mother, Tobiloba, had denied him access to the girl.
She added that Samuel introduced Eze to her as his mother and promised her N50, 000 if she could bring the girl to him.
“I came to Lagos in 2010 and I worked as a housemaid. I used the money I got to open a shop. Eventually, I was sent away from the shop and I needed money to start another business.
I met Samuel at Mowo bus stop in Badagry in January. He said he impregnated a woman and the woman (Tobiloba) left him to marry another man.
He said he wanted to get back the child, but the woman refused. He asked me to work for the woman in order to snatch the child and he promised to give me N50, 000.
On the day I snatched the girl; I took her to a bus stop and bought her a snack. When I took the girl to Samuel, he said I should take her to his mother, Mrs. Eze, in Anambra.
He said he would tell the girl’s mother that he was the one who took her. I later returned to Lagos, thinking he had told the woman. I was surprised when the police arrested me,” Augustine said.
Eze on her part said she got only N40,000 from the proceed of the sale, gave Augustine N60,000 and sent the remaining sum to Samuel, adding that she used the money to pay the rent on her apartment.
“I met Samuel in December 2016 at a party in Awka through a secondary school friend, who is an aunt to him.
He told me that he impregnated a woman in Lagos and that he would send the child to me to help take care of her. When Gladys (Augustine) brought the girl, Samuel told me to sell her for N500, 000.
I informed Ogochi (Nwekei) and she said one of her friends, Elizabeth, wanted to buy a child. Elizabeth paid N500, 000. Samuel told me to give Augustine N50,000 and another N10,000 for her transport back to Lagos, while I got N40,000.
I sent the remaining N400, 000 to Samuel. I used the money to pay my house rent. I have five children and grandchildren.”
Confirming the arrest of the suspects, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, said they would subsequently be charged to court after the police have concluded investigations while efforts are on to arrest other fleeing suspects.