By Chioma Onuegbu, Uyo
THE Akwa Ibom state police command said it has arrested five suspects involved in trafficking, theft and abduction of under age children.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. N-Nudam Fredrick (CSP) in a statement made available to newsmen yesterday in Uyo, identified the suspects as Esther Akpan (42yrs), Peace Bassey Okon, Otobong Akpan (21), Ndukeabasi Okon and her husband Ndianabasi Okon.
Fredrick stated, “On January, 5, 2020, a combined team of Anti-Child theft, Itu division intercepted an 18-seater Jimbei Hiace bus with Reg. No. YEN 709 XA, conveying six under age children namely, Elisha Joseph Akpan, aged 12years, Emmanuel Peter Edim (14), Elijah Victor Michael (15), Saviour Etete Amos (16), Effanga Asuquo Etim, (16) and David Sunday Akpan (15), all males from Akpabuyo, Cross River State.
“During investigation, the suspects, one Esther Asuquo Akpan (42) and Solomon Akpan (21) confessed that they were taking the victims from Calabar, Cross River state to Osun State for child labour.
“The Command has transferred the victims to Ministry of Women Affairs for custody, while the suspects have been charged to court.
“Again, on January, 7, 2020, Operatives ofAnti-Child theft, Mbo division arrested one Peace Okon who allegedly abducted one Joy Effiong Ekpeima ‘f (16) and Peace Effiong Ekpeima (17yrs) both females, in November, 2019 and took them to her sister’s house in Ogun State, denied them access to contact their parents, subjected them to forced labour and exploitation.
“During questioning, suspect admitted sending the victims to her sister without their parents or guardians consent. Investigation revealed that the suspect took advantage of the victims being dropped out-of -school occasioned by inability of their parents to pay their school fees and abducted them for forced labour.
“In view of the above, operatives proceeded to Ogun State and arrested the suspect’s sister, one Sandra Bassey who took custody of the victims. Suspects have been charged to court.
“In another development, the operatives acted on a tip-off that one Ndukeabasi Ndianabasi Okon of Nung Ukim Village, Uyo and her husband, Mr. Ndianabasi Okon are child trafficking/theft syndicate who take possession of pregnant girls until delivery and sell out the babies.
“Operatives of Anti-Child Theft swung into action and arrested one Ndukeabasi Ndianabasi. While Ndianabasi Okon took to flight. During investigation, Ndukeabasi confessed that she and her husband now at large have been in the illicit business since 2016.
“She added that they normally sell male and female children at the rate of four hundred thousand (N400, 000.00) and three hundred thousand (N300, 000.00) respectively.
“Two pregnant teenage victims, Peace Sunday (17), of Eka Ediene Vilage with seven months pregnancy, and Esther Victor Jeremiah (15) of Ikot Inyang village with five months pregnancy, all in Oruk Anam Local Government area were rescued”
The PPRO said the command through the Anti-Kidnapping Squad arrested a syndicate involved in racketeering of NYSC certificate to unsuspecting members of the public including an academic doctor.
He reassured Akwa Ibom residents that security of their lives and property was of utmost important to the Police.
“The Command will do everything within the limit of the law to ensure that the State is peaceful, while calling on the good people of Akwa Ibom State to volunteer useful information that will aid in effective policing of the state.” he stated.