The Nigeria Police, Kano State command, Friday reunited nine kids who were allegedly kidnapped and sold in Anambra State, with their parents. The children, aged between two and 10 years, were said to have been kidnapped from various locations within the state capital.
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Ahmed Iliyasu, who handed the kids over to their respective families, said some of them got missing since 2014, but were traced to Anambra State, where they were sold.
Eight suspects were arrested in connection with the alleged kidnapping and trafficking of the children.
Parading the suspects at the command’s headquarters, CP Iliyasu said one Sagir Mohammed Bako had alerted them about the mysterious disappearance of children from neighbourhoods across the state capital.
He said the syndicate went out of luck when their ring leader, one Paul Onwe and his wife, Mercy were arrested in the process of moving one of their kidnapped victims, Haruna Sagir Bako to Onisha. The CP disclosed that Bako was kidnapped on September 11, 2019, on his way home from Islamiyya School at Yankaba quarters, of the state capital.
He added that the suspects’ confession during interrogation led the command to extend its investigation to Anambra State, where eight other trafficked children had already been sold.
Some of the children, our correspondent observed, have lost connection with northern tradition as some of them had already adopted Igbo names and could barely speak Hausa language, their mother tongue.
Sharing his experience in the hands of his abductors, 10-year-old Farouq, who had adopted Onyedikabo Ogbodo said, “When Paul brought me to Onitsha, there was a man called Emma. I saw this one (pointing at one of the victims); there is another one that has gone, they were playing and Emma bought me Cheese balls before Aunty Ebere came and took me up and later took me to the hospital.
Farooq, who could not recall the name of his biological father, said he was in Class Four in a primary school in Onitsha before he was rescued.
CP Iliyasu said, “The suspects confessed to have conspired among themselves and kidnapped various children from areas like Sauna, Kwanar Jaba, Kawo, Hotoro, Yankaba and Dakata quarters, all within the Kano metropolis.’’
Among the suspects paraded over the alleged kidnap and trafficking of children were Paul Onwe, Mercy Paul, Emmanuel Igwe, Ebere Ogbodo, Louisa Duru and Monica Orachaa.
Responding to questions from correspondents, the alleged mastermind of the kidnapping, Paul Onwe, disclosed that he had realised over N2 million as proceeds of the heinous crime.
He said he had kidnapped and moved seven children to Anambra State within five years, adding that he earned N200,000 on each child. He said he sold the children to Ebere Ogbodo, adding that for each child, he earned N200,000.
Onwe, who hails from Ebonyi State, had lived in Kano since 1998 as an artisan.
He said he was introduced to kidnapping by Emmanuel Igwe, one of the suspects paraded by the police commissioner.
Pointing to Igwe, he said, “This man introduced me to kidnapping. He told me that Madam Ebere Ogbodo, who was a restaurateur, needed a child because she didn’t have any. Subsequently, I told my madam and she started searching.
“The children I kidnapped are seven in number. For the first one, who was two years old then, she gave me N150,000. I took that one from Brigade, Kwanar Jaba side.’’
He said Madam Ebere paid N200,000 for subsequent supplies.
Also, Ebere Ogbodo, an alleged buyer, said that Emmanuel Igwe introduced her to Onwe, who based in Kano.
She said Igwe told her that his friend’s wife worked at a motherless babies’ home; hence she accepted the supplies from them. She added that she bought the kids to raise them because she had no child of her own.
“I am a childless woman from Enugu State. I was crying because my husband sent me out when I met Emma and I told him about my problem. He said he had a brother whose wife was working in a motherless babies’ home. He connected Paul with me and he told me that the children were brought from a motherless babies’ home. I put them in school. I bought two of them at N200,000,” Ebere confessed.
Some of the parents of the kids could not control their emotions as they took custody of their children.
Ibrahim Ahmad Salisu’s 11-year-old son, Umar Ibrahim, was among the children rescued from Anambra by the police. He said the boy was abducted from the neighbourhood at Ahmadiyya in Brigade Quarters on his way to school.
Our correspondents gathered that the young Ibrahim adopted the Igbo name, Onyedika James and has lost command of the Hausa language. The only languages he understands at the moment are English and Igbo.
Salisu said his child could no longer recite the verses of the Holy Quran as he used to do before his abduction.
The mother of one of the kidnapped children, Hajiya Surayya Usman, narrated how her three-year-old child, Haruna Sagir, also known as Nawwar, disappeared and was miraculously found.
“We used to take him to the residence of his grandparents to play with other kids, after which they would bring him back in the evening. On that fateful day, we took him as usual, but around 6 pm, I received a call from the house, asking whether the boy had returned; to which I said no. We dispersed in search of him in the neighbourhood – the house of the ward head and nearby police stations – but all to no avail,” she said.
On the day nemesis caught up with the kidnapper, Hajiya Surayya said two of Nawwar’s aunts, with her husband’s sister-in-law, went to see a Malam soliciting his prayer to Allah to return the boy safely. While waiting at the door of the house, a tricycle passed and one of the women sighted a boy on the lap of the passenger and it occurred to her that it was the boy. She shouted in an attempt to stop the tricycle.
“When the tricycle stopped, she went to them, and to her greatest surprise, she discovered that it was the boy dressed in English wears. He was wearing a new set of cloths, a pair of shoes and a cap, obviously to disguise him. She called his name, and the boy answered, then she shouted for help. Before you knew it, people had gathered.
“At the police station, the kidnapper lied that he told the tricycle rider to take him to the police station. The tricyclist said the man told him to take them to New Road motor park at Sabon Gari. However, at the Bompai police headquarters, he confessed that he was taking the boy to Onitsha.
Hajiya Surayya advised parents to always watch the movement of their children and pray fervently for God to protect them. She said the agony they went through as the result of the loss of their child was indescribable.
Another parent, Malam Auwalu Murtala, known as Auwalu Ango, said his six-year-old daughter, Amira Auwalu, was kidnapped on September 5, 2019, at Kawo Quarters in Nasarawa Local Government Area around 6:30 pm.
He said the child was rescued in Anambra State where she was given the name, Chinyere. He added that the little girl had already been sold to another merchant at N1.5 million and was about to be taken to Lagos State before the police rescued her.
“I shed tears of joy when I finally set eyes on my daughter. We had searched and already given up on her. This is just too good to be true for us. We have been praying, and thank God that our prayers have been answered. I will also want to extend our gratitude to the Nigeria Police, Kano command, for doing a wonderful job,’’ he said.
Similarly, the father of another rescued child, Husna, who is just five years old, Malam Danlami Hassan, told our correspondents that his daughters, Husna and Amira, who incidentally happen to be cousins, were taken at the same time, the same place and same day.
According to him, their discovery in Anambra is just a miracle and an act of destiny as they had given up hope on them.
“We thought we had lost them forever, but here we are, reunited. Many have come to the police in search of theirs, but they couldn’t find them. I pray to God to let them be reunited with their children as we are with ours today. The excitement is something words can’t say. We thank God for everything,’’ he said.
Since 2014, cases of missing children in mysterious circumstances have become a daily phenomenon in parts of Nassarawa Local Government Area of Kano State.
Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that over 38 children below the age of three had gone missing in eight months, between 2017 and 2018.
Up till today, many children disappeared without any trace, from areas like Tinshama, Wurobagga, Hotoro, Haye and Hotoron Arewa, all in Nassarawa Local Government Area of the state.