POLICE AND NAPTIP IN WAR OF WORDS OVER CULPABILITY OF A SUSPECTED CHILD TRAFFICKER IN EBONYI STATE.
A new twist has emerged in the arrest of a Secondary School Principal who allegedly trafficked two female babies in Uburu, Ohaozara Local Government area of Ebonyi State.
Investigations by Radio Nigeria reveal that both the National Agency for the prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP and Ebonyi State Police Command have differed in their findings on the culpability of the Principal, one Patience Onuchukwu and her accomplice two weeks ago.
Radio Nigeria gathered that the disagreement had however delayed the suspects from being charged to Court.
The Desk Officer of NAPTIP in the State, Mrs. Florence Onwa alleged that Police were not doing enough to arraign the suspects even after enough evidence which points to child trafficking must have been established against them.
“We have gone to Nsukka where she claimed to have got the baby. But when we got to Nsukka, we didn’t see anybody, she took us to a tree inside UNN campus opposite Saint Patrick’s Catholic Church,(claiming) that that was where the woman that gave her the baby, gave her the baby.”
Mrs. Onwa claimed that rather than charge the suspects to court the Police granted them bail and wrote a letter to the Ministry of Women Affairs asking that the two babies be transferred to their custody.
“Our Commissioner is trying her best. Our directors have put hands on desk to make such that justice prevails. And so far, the NAPTIP Zonal Command Enugu has written to the Police to transfer the case to NAPTIP to handle, since it is NAPTIP case.”
In a swift reaction, the Police Public Relations Officer in the State, Mr. Jude Madu explained that NAPTIP had so far failed to provide the Police with enough evidence to charge the suspects to court.
He alleged that investigations reveal that the Prime suspect, the Secondary School Principal was merely keeping the babies for their mothers as she had no child of her own before her husband died.
“It is not child trafficking. She had somebody who had served her and left, later she got a child out of wedlock and came back to this woman to assist her. She said the man who got me pregnant said he doesn’t want to marry again. And the woman said okay, no problem, you can come and stay with me. Then she (the Principal) also has another relation again, who is residing at Nsukka, who has a baby too, but she is an under graduate. The girl still ran to her, saying I am having difficulty ooo to carry my baby back to school. Can you help me? Let my baby be with you if I came back, I will come and carry the baby. She accepted”
According to him, the request for the babies to be kept in Police custody is to facilitate their return to their mothers.
“What do you want us to do? This woman says she wants children and you are saying you don’t want. She is telling the police to carry out the DNA, if police discover that it is not the woman’s children they should charge her to court. Police say okay, no problem, since you are the person sponsoring, take us to DNA because it is not done for free. Then she ran away and refused coming back to the police. The request should be to return the babies to the real owners.”
The NAPTIP Desk officer, Mrs. Onwa however denied the Agency refused to cooperate with the police, stressing that if the real mothers of the babies had resurfaced as claimed by the police they must undergo a DNA test otherwise the case must be charged to court for the suspects to prove their innocence.
“If any man or any woman says that any of the child (children) is his or hers, NAPTIP has already concluded that DNA test must be conducted.”
As Nigerians await to see the end of the drama, the question on the lips of residents of the state is when will the two female babies who were about four months old reunite with their real mothers.
BY AMECHI ODO