Operatives of the Nigerian Army on Thursday handed over two suspected child traffickers to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) in Owerri.
Also handed over was an 18-month-old baby rescued from the traffickers for onward delivery to her parents.
Brig.-Gen. Sani Sulaiman, Commander 34 Artillery Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Obinze, Owerri, performed the hand-over on behalf of the Army.
The Commander explained that the suspects Favour Amaegbula from Rivers and Joy Duru from Ideato South Local Government Area of Imo were arrested on Sept. 14, after intelligence reports confirmed their locations.
“On July 24, Duru stole a baby and sold it to Amaegbula, who runs a so-called registered orphanage where we found a heavily pregnant girl, waiting to put to bed.
“The plan is to sell the baby after the mother had been delivered of it.
"Duru was arrested with four children aged 12 years, seven years, three years and one-and-a-half years.
“Our aim is to protect the lives of these victims, reunite them with their parents and hand them over to NAPTIP for prosecution because we are not a prosecuting agency,’’ he said.
Gen. Suleiman added that Amaegbula who claims to be running an orphanage buys children from kidnappers at the rate of N500,000 and sells them at the rate of N700,000 each.
He said that soldiers discovered indicting evidence such as signed documents indicative of child trading in the custody of the suspects.
Sulaiman called on residents of Orlu and Nkwerre in Ideato South Local Government Area of Imo whose children were missing to contact the Nigerian Army, for their possible identification and collection.
Duru, one of the suspects, confessed to stealing two of the children.
She said she stole one from a church premise in Nkwerre and the other in Okwelle in Onuimo Local Government Area of Imo and sold them to Amaegbula.
Kenneth Osuoha, father of the 18-month-old victim and his wife, Cynthia, were on hand to identify and claim their daughter amidst tears of joy.
Osuoha lauded the Nigerian Army and NAPTIP and promised to be more careful with the whereabouts of the baby.
Receiving the suspects, the NAPTIP’s Commander in Imo, Ernest Ogbu, commended the army for facilitating the arrests, noting that the suspects would be duly investigated and prosecuted.
He urged residents to support the agency with vital information that could lead to the arrest of human traffickers, as well as necessary logistics to assist the agency in the discharge of its duties.