25-year-old Blessing Stephen has confessed to trading all her three kids for N500,000.
Stephen, who was a member of a child trafficking syndicate recently smashed by operatives of the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team said it was hardship that made her engage in child trafficking.
The IG team also apprehended other arrested members of the syndicate which include a self-acclaimed 58-year-old doctor, Una Godwin; Blessing John 27; Israel Ariyo 33; Itoro Anthony; 40 and Mforbong Ntoro, 48.
According to City Round, the operatives launched a manhunt for one of the suspects, John, who abandoned a four-year-old boy in a church in the Ketu area of the state.
It was gathered that John abducted the boy at Ikota Housing Estate, Ajah sometime July 2019 and sold him in Akwa Ibom State to a certain Ntoro for N350,000.
Ntoro’s neighbours were alarmed by Ojo’s incessant cries and became suspicious, which forced the woman to return the child to John, asking her to get a baby as a replacement.
John was forced to return Ojo to Lagos and abandoned him inside the church located along the road on the pretext that she wanted to pick some loads on the other side of the way.
Ojo got reunited with his parents after the church reported the incident at the Ketu Police Station.
In a bid to fish out the suspect after a petition was filled to the IRT, the team tracked down John a few weeks ago in Ibadan, Oyo State, and she led them to arrest her accomplices, Stephen and Ntoro.
Speaking to the police, she blamed hardship for engaging in child trafficking, adding that she needed money to treat an ailment she was battling with.
“I did an abortion which backfired. I had surgery and needed money to continue treatment. I contacted my friend, Blessing Stephen, and she told me I could raise money by stealing a child. I abducted the boy and took him to Ibadan, Oyo State, where Blessing lived with her husband (Israel Ariyo),” she explained.
She further aid Ojo spent three days with them before he was taken to Akwa Ibom where he was sold to Ntoro for N350,000.
On her part, Stephen, a native of Nsitayi, Akwa Ibom State, said apart from Ojo, she had sold three children of hers to Ntoro, who in turn resold them.
She said, “I once lived in Ikota, Ajah. I dated one Julius Abang, and he impregnated me. I had a boy named Emmanuel for him in 2010, and the following year, we broke up. My mother was taking care of the boy and me, but when life became unbearable, I sought advice from Mrs. Ntoro, who is from my village.
“She advised me to sell the child and tell his father that he is dead. I sold him for N150,000. In 2012, my mother died, and I traveled to Akwa Ibom for her burial. I dated another man, a truck driver, and he impregnated me. After some time, he abandoned me, and I sold the child I had for him for N100,000.
“In 2013, I met another lover who is a motorcycle rider. Within six months, he impregnated me, but he was so poor that he could not even feed me or pay rent. The engine of the motorcycle packed up, and he became jobless. We sold the baby for N250,000, and Mrs. Ntoro collected N20,000. Later, Mrs. Ntoro called from the village that she needed another baby boy. I told Blessing (John), but unfortunately, we ran into trouble.”
It was discovered that after interrogation by the IG team, Ntoro worked with Anthony and Godwin.
According to Anthony, Godwin, who was the husband of her late friend, contracted her to look for buyers for children, adding that he received about N300,000 proceeds from two babies they sold.
Godwin said he helped women to sell their babies because they were desperately in need of money.
“A woman told me that her husband was doing illegal oil bunkering and was killed in the process. She said life was tough for her and that she wanted to sell one of her five children to survive the hardship. I told Mrs. Anthony to look for a buyer. She sold the baby N450,000, and I gave the mother N350,000, and I collected only N100,000.”
According to the police, Ntoro and Godwin were being investigated to track those they the children to.