By Peter Okutu
ABAKALIKI — IT was indeed an ugly episode when facts emerged over the alleged involvement of a Secondary School Principal (names withheld) who allegedly trafficked two female babies in Uburu Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
Investigations by South East Voice revealed that both the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, and Ebonyi State Police Command differed in their findings on the culpability of the principal and her accomplice.
SEV has been monitoring the situation and reports that the disagreement has, however, delayed the suspects’ apperance in court.
The Desk Officer of NAPTIP in the State, Mrs Florence Onwa, alleged that the Police were not doing enough to arraign the suspects even after enough evidence which points to the fact that child trafficking must have been established against them.
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.
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 claimed that investigations reveals that the prime suspect was merely keeping the babies for their mothers as she had no child of her own before her husband died.
According to him, the request for the babies to be kept in Police custody is to facilitate their return to their mothers.
Cooperating with the police
The NAPTIP desk officer, Mrs Onwa, however, denied that 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.
Meanwhile, after accusation and counter accusations, the principal and her accomplice were later rearrested by the Police and handed over to NAPTIP. A letter obtained by South East Voice with reference number CB3383/EBS/JWC/VOL.1/59 and signed by the officer in charge of Juvenile Welfare Centre, Anti Human Trafficking Women and Child Protection Units, State CIID Ebonyi State, Ms Grace Okoro, explained that the suspects were rearrested to enable NAPTIP to conduct a discreet investigation into the matter.
According to the NAPTIP desk officer in the State, the two babies who were kept at Red Cross Motherless Babies Home, Abakaliki had been withdrawn and taken to NAPTIP Zonal Office ENUGU alongside the suspects.
Mrs. Onwa stated that as a result of the disagreement with the Police, the Agency resorted to the services of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps for the transfer of the suspects to Enugu for more investigation and prosecution.