A 55-year-old woman, Nkechi Odinye, has been arrested by police with 16 children said to have been reasonably suspected to have been stolen recovered from her.
This was made known by the spokesman of the Anambra State Police Command, Haruna Mohammed, in a statement on Wednesday.
According to Mohammed, the arrest of Odinye was a culmination of a series of efforts by the police to break a kidnapping ring.
He said: “It will be recalled that on 22/10/2019 following an intelligence report, Police operatives attached to the Anambra State Police Command arrested three female suspects at Nkpor Market/Tarzan Junction in Idemili North LGA of Anambra State, with three children suspected to have been stolen.
“Investigations revealed that the children were stolen from Gombe State by one Hauwa Usman ‘f” on the 20/10/2019 and brought to her accomplices in Anambra State. Following the Public announcement by the Command on the 27/10/2019, parents of the two kids from Gombe State came to Awka and identified their children.
“Consequently, the children have since reunited with their parents and suspects were handed over to the Gombe State Police Command for discreet investigation and prosecution.
“Furthermore, upon interrogation by the police in Gombe State, suspects voluntarily confessed that they usually steal the children and bring to their sponsor, one Mrs Nkechi Odinye, here in Anambra State, who buys each child at the rate of between two hundred and four hundred thousand naira (N200 to N400,000), depending on their age bracket and gender.
“Following voluntary confession by the suspects and while acting on a tip off, Police detectives attached to 3-3 Division, in Collaboration with Operatives attached to the Command’s Special Anti-Cult Section (SPACS), stormed the hideout of the principal suspect, one Mrs Nkechi Odinye, ‘f’, aged 55 years, and effected her arrest at Obosi in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State.
“The Suspect had hitherto evaded arrest for over three years by changing locations until her arrest.The team equally recovered sixteen other children of various age brackets, comprising ten boys and six girls, reasonably suspected to have been stolen from different parts of the country under her custody.
“Both the suspect and the found children were handed over to the Gombe State Police Command where four of the children were identified and reunited with their biological parents after exhaustive investigation and forensic analysis, including DNA tests. Also one of them was handed over to the parents in Asaba, Delta State.
“However, on the 18/1/2021 the Gombe State Police Command returned eleven unclaimed children comprising Seven (7) boys and four (4) girls, back to the Anambra State Command where the children were originally found. They were subsequently handed over to the Anambra State Ministry for Social Welfare, Women’s and Children’s Affairs, for safe keeping until their biological parents emerge.”
Mohammed said following this development, the Command now has a total number of 18 unclaimed children rescued from suspected child traffickers.
He said in view of the foregoing, members of the public are requested by the Command’s Commissioner, John B. Abang, to come forward to identify the children.
He said anyone with useful information about the found children should report at Area Command Onitsha, 3-3 Divisional Police Station, Nkwelle Ezunaka or contact the PPRO, Anambra State Police Command through GSM no 08060970639.