The suspect, Blessing Stephens, was arrested by the operatives of the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT) after stealing a boy from a couple at Ikota area of Ajah, Lagos State.
The 25-year-old suspect was arrested alongside five others, including a homeopathic medical doctor, Una Ekong Godwin, 58; Blessing John 27; Israel Ariyo 33; Itoro Anthony, 40, and Mrs. Mforbong Itoro, 48.
She said:” I am from Nsitayi, Odor Akwa Ibom state but resides in Ijota Ajah area in Lagos. I dropped out of Bright Academy Secondary School, Ajah, due to a financial problem.”
‘’There, I dated one Julius Abang and he impregnated me. I had a boy called Emmanuel with Abang in 2010 but we broke up in 2011. Only my mother was taking care of me and when life became unbearable for me I sought an advice from one Mrs. Mforbong and she advised me to sell the child and tell the father that the child had died if he ever cared to ask.”
‘’I was working as an office assistant and my mother did not know that the child was sold. In 2012 I started another work in a shopping complex in Ikota. When I went to Akwa Ibom for my mother’s burial I dated another guy, a truck driver and he impregnated me but after two years he abandoned me after impregnating another girl. After one month I sold the baby but I got only N100,000.”
‘’In 2013, I got another lover named Israel who is an iron bender. Within six months he impregnated me but he was so poor that he could not even feed me nor pay house rent. The motorcycle he usually used to find small money was destroyed by someone who put salt into the engine and the motorcycle became useless.”
‘’We decided to sell the baby for N250,000. Mrs. Ntoro collected N20,000 and she advised us to tell whoever asked after the child that the baby died and had been buried.
‘’Later, Mrs. Ntoro called from village that she needed another baby boy. I told my sister Blessing John to steal a baby boy from Ikota. It is this one that put us in trouble.’’
On July 14, 2019, a four- year-old boy, Master Ojo Adegboyega Fapounda was stolen from his parents in Ikota housing estate Ajah, Lagos by his neighbour identified as Blessing John.
She allegedly took the stolen child to Ibadan on July 15, 2019 to meet her childhood friend, Blessing Stephen. The child spent three days in the house of Stephens’s husband identified as Israel Ariyo.
The stolen child was taken to Akwa Ibom and sold to one human trafficker, Mrs Mforbong for N350, 000. Unfortunately for the buyer, the toddler started crying uncontrollably to the hearing of neighbours who wondered why the child was crying in the house of the old woman who had reached menopause.
Afraid that she might be exposed, the woman advised Blessing Stephen to return the child to his parents in Lagos after three days on the pretext that the child was too old for her to buy and that she preferred a week- old baby instead.
Blessing (Stephen) returned the child to Ibadan and handed him over to Blessing (John) to return the boy to his parents at Ikota in Ajah area of Lagos.
Determined to take the child to a place close to Ikota, she tried to deceive a security man attached to a church at Ketu, a Lagos suburb that she wanted to leave the boy with him in order to pick some items across the road, but the security man declined.
Unknown to the security man, Blessing later sneaked into the church through the back door and dropped the baby and bolted.
On discovering the baby in the church, the security man reported the matter to the church authorities and the matter was reported to the nearest police station.
The baby was subsequently taken to a childcare centre in Lagos by the police.
Operatives of IRT traced the suspects to Ibadan, Oyo State capital following a petition by the father of the boy leading to their arrest.
It was said that the syndicate had sold over 30 stolen children.
@ The Nation