Five Women Held For Cross-border ‘Trafficking’ Of Children

Detectives at the Police Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (FCIID) in Alagbon, Ikoyi, have arrested five women for al...

Detectives at the Police Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (FCIID) in Alagbon, Ikoyi, have arrested five women for allegedly trafficking children from Benin Republic into Nigeria.

The women, Abike Shobowale, 72; Abiola Adeniyi, 57; Abike Amusan, 50; Sarat Quadri, 42 and Zainab Hamzat were said to belong to a syndicate that illegally ship children between ages six and 14 into Nigeria for exploitation.

According to the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) FCIID Muritala Mani, the suspects were arrested on May 21 at Oke-Arin Market, Lagos where the 14 children including Nigerians were also recovered.

He said detectives acted on intelligence report and moved in swiftly to rescue the children.
Mani said plans were on to reunite the minors with their biological parents, adding that the FCIID was collaborating with the International Police (INTERPOL) to fish out the alleged ring leader identified as Baba Sunday.

Lamenting the spate of abduction and trafficking in persons, said the vices had become regular and the police were out to contain it.

He said: “It is in light of this, that operatives of the Anti-Human Trafficking Section of FCIID, Alagbon Annex, were directed to Oke-Arin Market on May 21, where the suspects were arrested.

“We have launched a massive investigation geared towards arresting anyone connected with this criminal syndicate. We will not rest on our oars as we strive to make our environment crime-free.”

But two of the suspects, Shobowale and Adeniyi who became dramatic following the presence of reporters, denied the allegation, insisting they only took custody of some of the children to help train them.

The women started crying insisting they were not traffickers and did not know it was an offence to take in children without legal documents and permission of the parents.

Adeniyi, a wine seller, said the two children recovered from her were brought by Baba Sunday from Benin Republic who said they were his biological kids.

Asked whether the children have valid travel documents and if she did a formal documentation before taking them, Adeniyi said she was not aware of those procedures until her arrest.

She claimed she wanted to enrol the kids in primary school, adding that they were neither subjected to child labour nor was Baba Sunday paid any money.

She said: “In February, there was a man called Baba Sunday from Cotonou. I have known him for five years. He comes to buy goods in Lagos. He brought these kids for me. He claimed they are his biological children and he wanted them to learn a trade or go to school. He did not collect one naira from me.

“I took them to a school in Oke-Arin but the school did not admit them because they could not speak English or Yoruba. I started teaching them and they now understand simple English. I went to school and know my rights.

“On Tuesday, I was at my shop when two policemen came and arrested me. They said there was a petition against me. I followed them. They locked us up in a cell.

“My children were here to take my bail but they refused. It was on Wednesday they took our bail and told us to come back, only to get here and see people filming us. This is unfair. I am not a criminal.

 “The police told us that we should have involved a lawyer and entered into an agreement. I begged them that they should forgive us, although ignorance is not an excuse. I did not know before now that what I did is child trafficking.”

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