The Anambra State Police Command, on Wednesday, said no fewer than 18 children it rescued from traffickers remained unclaimed two years after.
The command’s Public Relations Officer, Haruna Mohammed, disclosed this in a statement in Awka.
He said the command had arrested four women allegedly involved in the trafficking of the children.
Mohammed stated, “It will be recalled that on October 22, 2019, following an intelligence report, police operatives attached to the Anambra State Police Command arrested three female suspects at the Nkpor Market/Tarzan junction in the Idemili North LGA of Anambra State with three children suspected to have been stolen.
“Investigations revealed that the children were stolen from Gombe State by one Hauwa Usman on the October 20, 2019 and brought to her accomplices in Anambra State.
“Following the public announcement by the command on October 27, 2019, the parents of two of the kids from Gombe State came to Awka and identified their children.
“The children have since been reunited with their parents and the suspects were handed over to the Gombe State Police Command for discreet investigation and prosecution.”
He added, “Upon interrogation by the police in Gombe State, the suspects voluntarily confessed that they usually steal the children and bring them to their sponsor, one Mrs Nkechi Odinye, here in Anambra State, who buys each child at the rate of between N200,000 and N400,000, depending on their age and gender.
“Following voluntary confession by the suspects and while acting on a tip-off, police detectives attached to the 3-3 Division, in Collaboration with operatives attached to the command’s Special Anti-Cult Section, stormed the hideout of the principal suspect, one Mrs Nkechi Odinye, aged 55, and effected her arrest at Obosi in the Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State.
“The suspect had hitherto evaded arrest for over three years by changing locations until her arrest.
“The team equally recovered from her custody 16 other children of various age brackets, comprising 10 boys and six girls, reasonably suspected to have been stolen from different parts of the country.
“Both the suspect and the found children were handed over to the Gombe State Police Command; four of the children were identified and reunited with their biological parents after exhaustive investigation and forensic analysis, including DNA tests. Also, one of them was handed over to the parents in Asaba, Delta State.
“However, on January 18, 2021, the Gombe State Police Command returned 11 unclaimed children, comprising seven boys and four girls, to Anambra State, where the children were originally found.
“They were subsequently handed over to the Anambra State Ministry for Social Welfare, Women and Children’s Affairs for safe keeping until their biological parents emerge.
“Meanwhile, the command now has a total of 18 unclaimed children rescued from suspected child traffickers.”
While urging members of the public to disseminate the message to enable the parents and close relatives of the children to come out, identify and collect them, Mohammed appealed to anyone with useful information about the kids to report at the Area Command, Onitsha; the 3-3 Divisional Police Station, Nkwelle Ezunaka, or contact the PPRO, Anambra State Police Command.