CHIMA AZUBUIKE from PUNCH, writes about the arrest of an alleged child trafficking syndicate by the police in Gombe State and how the victims were sold to buyers with the connivance of government officials
I have boys as children; I only wanted to have a girl-child,” was the excuse given by Mrs Tina Raphael, a 60-year-old woman from Anambra State who was arrested by the Gombe State Police Command over her involvement in a case of suspected child trafficking.
In an interview with Saturday PUNCH, Raphael said she adopted the baby from a suspected trafficker she identified as Khadijah for N400,000, adding that she was introduced to the ailing child who was dying from malnutrition.
“I had been wanting to adopt a baby girl since January 1, 2024, and was told that one was available by Khadijah. The baby is one year old and she was not walking and was sick, so I asked her (Khadijah) to bring the baby to me to see what I could do to help her.
“After looking at the baby, I noticed that she was suffering from malnutrition and needed medical assistance; that’s why I asked her to bring the child after which I asked her how I could get legal papers for the custody of the baby since she works with social welfare (in the Ministry of Women Affairs) because she told me she works there.”
Narrating further, the 60-year-old woman disclosed that she was charged an amount for the documentation of the baby’s ownership and denied buying the baby.
“She (Khadijah) told me to bring N400,000 which I did. This happened on January 1, 2024, and I was hoping that she would come on Friday and hand over the papers to me, only for me to see her with police in my house and (the police) arrested me without the papers; that was how I got involved.
“I didn’t buy the baby with the money I gave her because she said she would hand over papers to me and that was what I had been waiting for,” Raphael added.
When our correspondent asked her whether she knew who the little girl’s mother was, she said she was told that the baby’s mother had died.
“The baby’s mother is dead and nobody is there to take care of her. She is sick and cannot walk and my husband welcomed the idea too because I have only male children,” she added.
Like Raphael, another resident of Gombe also from Anambra State, Ukamaka Ugo, who was also arrested for baby racketeering, claimed she was innocent.
Ugo said Khadijah had promised to ‘give’ her baby for a fee when they met in a market.
“There was a day I went to the market and met Khadijah carrying a baby girl on her back. We exchanged greetings and I told her that the baby she had on her back was beautiful and that I wished she could let me have her since I did not have any.
“She said she would not give me this one (the baby) but that she was a worker in the hospital with the social welfare department. She said any time she got a baby she would let me know,” she said.