Immigration rescues 3-week-old trafficked baby in Calabar
The Marine Patrol team of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) in Cross River State has rescued a three-week-old baby suspected to be a victim of child trafficking on the high sea.
The Cross River Comptroller of NIS, Okey Ezugwu said that the suspected child trafficker, Maureen Awokara, was arrested on December 19 at the high sea due to her inability to give comprehensive information about the baby.
“A few days ago, our officers at the marine patrol at the international waterways intercepted one Maureen Awokara, who claimed to be a native of Imo state with a three-week-old child.
“During the arrest, she came up with all stories that were not adding up. Initially, she said the child belongs to her sister, yet we have carried out a preliminary investigation and all the lines she gave us to reach the sister, (name withheld), is not connecting.
“At this point, we are going to hand her over to NAPTIP for further investigations. The preliminary investigation gives us every reason to believe that the little child is being trafficked.
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“The suspect claims she is (was) going to Cameroon, Gabon and wherever. We are suspecting a cartel deal, because over time, we have had a lot of surveillance and serious checks at our border basis and the airport, making it impossible for any of them to use these routes.
“We are looking at a situation where they have now devised a means of using the waterways, using small boats to take away these little children along,” he said.
He said an effort by the command to get in contact with other family members to ascertain if the family members were in agreement for her to take the baby away had been unsuccessful because the suspect was not willing to give them useful information on the matter.
He further explained that effort by the command to get in contact with other family members to ascertain if the family members were in agreement for her to take the baby away have proved abortive because the suspect was not willing to give them useful information on the matter.
Reacting to the allegations, Ms Awokara, 40, said due to her 18 year childless marriage, her sister who could not afford to take care of the child, gave her the infant after delivery.
“She gave me the baby in Imo state; since they brought me here, I have been trying to get in contact with her but her number isn’t connecting.
“The only time her number went through, I only heard a man’s voice, which was not her own,” she said.
She noted that the father of the baby denied the paternity of the child.
She added “My younger sister is between 18-20 years. This is not her first time of giving birth; but, we don’t know where the first child is as we speak,” she said.
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