NAPTIP nabs civil servants for selling baby for N1.5m

The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has paraded four suspects for allegedly selling a one-month-old baby for N1.5m.

NAPTIP Director-General Julie Okah-Donli said the suspects were arrested for buying and selling children like commodities.

She said following surveillance activities, operatives of the agency on August 23, 2020, raided No 1314 Bridge Street, Sabon Gari, Mararaba, Nasarawa State, residence of one Mrs. Cecilia Ugbaku Onyema, a staff of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and rescued a 16- year-old girl from lmo State who had just given birth to a baby boy.

She said the boy was sold at N1.5 million to one Mrs. Bernadette Chinonso lhezuo, an employee of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Abuja, adding that both Mrs. Cecelia Ugbaku and Mrs. Ihezua have been arrested, and the rescued baby was with the agency.

“Further investigation took the operatives to Owerri, Imo State, where one Mrs Okasi Ekeoma (a sister to Cecilia) who brought the pregnant girl to Cecilia was arrested including the mother of the girl, Mrs Harriet Nmezi.

“The two women masterminded the movement of the girl from Owerri to Mararaba and made the transaction with the buyer.

“They also received the money from Mrs Ihezuo.

From all indications, Ekeoma has been in the business of selling babies,” she said.

Okah-Donli said the suspects have confessed to the crime and would be prosecuted as their actions violated various sections of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act of 2015.

One of the suspects, Mrs. Bernadette said, she wanted to adopt a baby and had told her friend, Ekeoma.

“I made normal applications for adoption and gave them to her.

“She sent it to the social welfare in Imo State.

“They made inquiries from the mother because the underage girl was carrying an unwanted pregnancy and the mother said that instead of the girl aborting the baby and dying, she was ready to give her consent for the baby to be adopted.

“That was why I got interested and I paid the complete money they demanded, N1.5m,” she said.

NAPTIP had raised an alarm on the activities of some human merchants who moved across the country harvesting children, mostly newborn babies, from vulnerable mothers and giving them out in exchange for huge amounts of money.

The DG said women in need of adopting children and babies should do so legally.

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