By Carol Utulu
The Delta State Police Command has confirmed the arrest of an Asaba-based businesswoman suspected to be a ringleader of a child theft syndicate.
The state Commissioner of Police, Mr Zanna Ibrahim, made the confirmation on Saturday in Asaba at a press briefing and parade of 43 suspects arrested over various crimes.
Ibrahim said that the businesswomen, who operates a popular drinking joint in Asaba, was stealing children and selling them in neighbouring Anambra State.
“On Sept. 1, 2016, one Aisha Yahaya reported to the police that two ladies who she was able to identify, came to her house and introduced themselves as SARS operatives and told her that her husband sent them to her.
“The complainant said that she followed them to a junction where they met the businesswoman, and she gave her N3,500.00 to alleviate her poverty, and then asked her to go and buy clothes for her baby.
“She said that the syndicate took her baby, Fatima Yahaya, who is a year old. This prompted her to raise alarm that led to the immediate arrest of two of the suspects,” Ibrahim said.
According to him, detectives also arrested the businesswoman’s daughter, while in possession of the stolen child.
The police boss further said that the businesswoman and another member of the syndicate were nabbed the following day at their hideout in Okpanam, a suburb of the state.
He said: “Following their arrest, the suspects confessed to the crime and led detectives to Ogidi Town in Anambra State where 12 suspected stolen children were recovered from one pastor.
“The syndicate specialises in buying and selling children. It is revealed that the pastor paid N400,000 for each child sold to him.”
Ibrahim further said that two of the recovered children had since been handed over to their parents, while the remaining ten – whose ages range from six months to two years – were kept at St. Barnabas Orphanage, Asaba.
“The children are kept pending identification by their families.
“Meanwhile, efforts are on to apprehend other members of the syndicate who are still at large,” he said.