The Akwa Ibom police war against child theft in the state has made a breakthrough with the uncovering of a syndicate that specializes in the theft and traffic of babies and young children.

The police Anti-Child theft unit of the State Police Command recently busted child stealing and trafficking syndicate where a medical doctor with the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, one Dr. Victor Onongha was arrested with seven of his accomplices.

In a statement made available to newsmen in Uyo and signed by the state Police Public Relations Officer [PPRO] CSP N-Nudam Fredrick, the said suspects were arrested based on information volunteered by an informant in the state.

Aged 42years, the medical doctor and others were arrested in Itu local government council of the state while others were caught in Cross River state based on a tip-off.

The conspirators include Hope Jonah Offor ‘f’, aged 42years, a Lab Scientist, at the General Hospital, Calabar, Patience Livingstone ‘f’ Nigeria Army Calabar, Clement Edem Sunday ‘m’ aged 33years, Okon Akpan ‘f’ aged 48years, Abigail Asuquo Davis ‘f’ aged 30years and Grace Asuquo Davis ‘f’ aged 23years.

“The Anti-Child Theft Unit of the State Police Command on 8th May 2020 acted on credible information in a case of Child Trafficking. The suspects were arrested in Itu, Akwa Ibom State and Calabar, Cross River State following a tip-off that one Grace Asuquo Davis ‘f’, the mother of a 5-month-old baby conspired with her sister, one Abigail Asuquo Davis and sold the said child at the cost of two hundred and fifty thousand nairas [N250, 000.00] to one Dr. Victor Onongha.

“The transaction was perfected through two human trafficking agents, one Clement Edem’s’ and Ekaette Okon Akpan ‘f’. The said doctor was arrested and he confessed to the offence and led the Police to the arrest of one Hope Jonah ‘f’, a lab scientist working at General Hospital, Calabar who bought the child from him.

“On further interrogation, Hope Jonah ‘f’ confessed to the offence and also led the Police to the Nigerian Army Barracks, Ebrutu, Calabar where one Mrs Patience Livingstone was arrested and the baby was recovered. Patience Livingstone on her part admitted that her husband Livingstone Orji bought the child at the cost of six hundred and sixty thousand naira [N660, 000.00] from the lab scientist, Hope Jonah Offor ‘f’”, the statement said.

Similarly, the PPRO further explained that, on 6th February 2020, “the Anti-Child Trafficking Unit received information that one Ukeme Ability Henry ‘f’ of Owot Uta village in Ibesikpo Asutan local government council lured one Emem Uwem Okon ‘f’ who was pregnant and due for delivery to Oyigbo, in Rivers State and handed her over to a child trafficker popularly known as Dr Oliver through an agent named David other names unknown.

“That David took Emem Uwem Okon [the pregnant lady] to a certain woman who nursed and delivered her of a baby boy. After her delivery, David conveyed Emem Uwem Okon ‘f’ to where they met Imaobong Innocent ‘f’ who joined them in the car to a point where Emem Uwem was dispossessed of her baby by the said Imaobong Innocent and the sum of four hundred thousand naira [N400,000.00] was paid to David. On further interrogation, Imaobong Innocent implicated one Esther Akpan Dan ‘f’ of Usung Esop Obio, Ekit Itam 11 in the case.

“That on the 7th of February, 2020, Imaobong brought Emem back to Akwa Ibom State where one Ukeme Ability and her boyfriend [Imo Udoudo] was contacted and was instructed to take Emem Uwem to Nto Obio Ikang village in Obot Akara where Emem Uwem was confined for a month and some days. Ukeme Ability later came back to where Emem Uwem was still in confinement with two male children suspected to be stolen and thereafter carried them to an unknown place.

According to him, all four suspects have been arrested and have made useful statements leading to the recovery of a 4-year-old child from a secluded area in Aba, Abia State. The 4-year-old child has since been reunited with the family.

The Police spokesperson in the state said that all cases are under investigation, adding that, suspects would soon be arraigned in court on completion of the investigation.

He appealed to the people of the state not to renege in giving useful information to the Command as the state Commissioner of Police Mr Imohimi Edgal has vowed to reduce crime rate in the state to the barest minimum.