March 26, 2023

6-hour-old-baby ‘abducted’, Lagos police officer accused of connivance

6-hour-old-baby ‘abducted’, Lagos police officer accused of connivance

Lagos CP, Idowu Owohunwa

•IGP ignores petition – Activist Akiyode-Afolabi

By Josephine Agbonkhese

Amid the ongoing global celebration of the year 2023 International Women’s Month, a rights group, Women Advocates Research & Documentation Centre, WARDC, has demanded justice over the alleged abduction of a 6-hour-old-baby christened Baby Joseph.

The group also called on the Inspector General of Police to immediately transfer the case to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Person, NAPTIP, within 14 days or risk a protest visit.

Baby Joseph, according to the Founder, WARDC, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, who spoke on behalf of the mother, Mrs Fortunate Obhafuoso, who is currently said to be in safe custody, was forcefully taken away from his mother on December 23, 2022, by a police officer identified as Mr Samuel Ukpabio, attached to the Child Trafficking Department, Panti C.I.D, Yaba, Lagos.

Speaking at a meeting with stakeholders and newsmen in Lagos, organised in commemoration of this year’s International Women’s Day, Akiyode-Afolabi said: “We are alarmed by the month-long silence of the Inspector General of Police. We cannot be celebrating International Women’s Day

when a woman has experienced such a grievous violation without forthcoming justice.

“On February 6, 2023, a petition, addressed to the Inspector General of Police to transfer the case
against Ukpabio for abduction and human trafficking of Baby Joseph to the National Agency For The Prohibition of Trafficking In Person, NAPTIP, was made by 141 human and women’s rights organisations led by
WARDC but there has been no response since then.”

Recalling the incident that led to the disappearance of the baby, she said: “We were reliably informed by the victim that she solicited for assistance on social media sometime in October, 2022 due to her condition, being a single mother of two kids who was at that time about seven months’ pregnant. She was offered assistance by one Mrs. Tosin Jeremiah who claimed to be a Matron.
“The said Mrs. Jeremiah invited the victim along with her kids over on December 16, 2022 and directed
her to her friend’s place at Agbara, Lagos. The victim stayed with Jeremiah’s friend (Mama Rachel) at the above address for one week.

“On December 22, 2022, the said Tosin’s friend ordered for an Uber taxi that took our client from Agbara to MR BIGG’S at Abule-Egba, where a doctor and a lady came to pick the victim to one hospital annex located at Ajegunle Bus Stop, Alakuko, by Abeokuta Expressway, Lagos, where the victim delivered a baby boy on December 23, 2022.

“Few hours after the victim’s delivery, the same doctor took her back to MR BIGG’S at Abule-Egba for the same Uber driver to take her back to Agbara. There, the victim met with two ladies and Mr Ukpabio, who introduced himself as a police officer from Nigeria Police Force, Panti C.I.D, Yaba Lagos.

“The officer arrested our client on the spot, alleging/accusing her of child trafficking. She was thereafter taken to the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, same day, through a back entrance, where Mr. Ukpabio threatened her to write a statement which she wrote under duress, following which her one-day-old baby was forcefully taken away from her and handed over to the woman who accompanied Mr Ukpabio to carry out the arrest at Abule-Egba.

“The victim reported that the officer released her after her baby was taken away and she was offered N15, 000 to order a ride home with her other children; he thereafter threatened her never to show up or demand the whereabouts of her baby, claiming that government will take responsibility for the baby.

“The victim has further informed us that on 24/12/2022, she called Mr Ukpabio to demand her baby and the said officer threatened her again on the phone to report her to NAPTIP on allegation of child trafficking.

“The victim reported calling him again on 25/12/2022, challenging him to produce her newborn baby. At this point, Mr. Ukpabio requested for the victim’s account number and forwarded the sum of N170,000 (one hundred and seventy thousand naira) for her to take care of herself.

“This action of the unsolicited money transfer points to a suspicion that the baby has been sold. The victim is distraught as a result of the trauma of the near loss of her baby. An officer of the law, Mr. Ukpabio, and his syndicate have taken advantage of her
situation and circumstantial vulnerability.”

She, therefore, pleaded for immediate intervention, demanding that Mr Ukpabio and his alleged syndicate be apprehended and made to disclose the whereabouts of the victim’s newborn baby boy.

All efforts by Sunday Vanguard to have Mr Ukpabio respond to the allegations, as of the time of this report, proved abortive.

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