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Distraught mother laments over inability to raise sum demanded by police to recover abducted son

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Barely seven months after a six-year-old boy was stolen by a stranger in the Dopemu area of Agege, a Lagos suburb, his distraught mother has lamented that she could not raise the sum demanded by operatives to rescue her son from the woman he was sold to.

Life has not remained the same for Zainab Ganiyu since her son went missing at their 22 Okeiho Street home in the Dopemu area of Agege, Lagos in November last year.

Recall that six-year-old Sultan was stolen around 7 pm on November 1, 2021, by a suspected child trafficker, Chijioke Akuba, who was said to have lured him and one other boy with popcorn while they were playing near their mother’s stall at a market in the area.

While the other boy escaped and returned home, Sultan was taken away by the strange woman.

“The other boy said he escaped from the strange woman while she was trying to buy them some candies,” Zainab said.

Fortunately, in March this year, the suspected child trafficker who kidnapped Sultan was exposed in Anambra State by her brother, who noticed that the children in her custody were speaking Yoruba, and involved the police, which led to her arrest.

While being interrogated by the police in a video, Akuba, admitted stealing some children, some of which she had since sold to an unidentified kingpin. She also admitted to selling her biological child.

She said the child she was caught with was picked from the Power Line area of Oko-Oba in Agege, Lagos, adding that she was working with an unnamed woman whom she said was her boss and the kingpin of a child trafficking syndicate.

Akuba said her share from the sale of the child would have been N150,000.

Akuba’s arrest prompted Zainab to visit her while in police custody, and the suspect, on being shown Sultan’s photograph, was said to have identified him as one of the children she stole and handed over to her boss in Anambra State.

Zainab said: “The woman actually confessed that she stole my son and gave him to her boss who has since sold my son to an unknown person.

“Chijioke’s (Akuba’s) accomplice, Chika, was arrested after she was trailed to Katankowa Market at Abule Egba (Lagos), which they usually used as a den to transport stolen children to the eastern part of the country.”

While the arrest of the suspects initially gave Zainab a reprieve, her hope of being reunited with her son now appears to be far from reality as the woman who actually received Sultan from the suspects and sold him was said to be at large while the family’s inability to provide the sum demanded by the police is hampering the boy’s return.

Zainab said: “The police have tracked the culprits, Chijioke and Chika, and arrested them, and they were initially detained at Elere Police Division and subsequently transferred to the custody of the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) of the Lagos Police Command at Panti, Yaba.

“We paid the sum of N40,000 for police to track the main suspect (Akuba), and her accomplice was also arrested at Katankowa Market, where they usually patronised for second-hand clothes and used as a decoy to abduct and traffic innocent children to the eastern part of the country.

“She and her accomplice were detained for some weeks and they were later released and asked to report to SCID on a regular basis in order to get their boss in whose custody my son is.

“The suspects have since stopped reporting to the police as ordered after they were released on bail and that is where the matter stops now.”

The distraught mother said the whereabouts of her son have affected her health and business badly as she and her husband have no money to even feed let alone sponsor the rescue of their son, who is the second child of the family.

“We learnt that the woman who took Sultan from the suspect has been traced to a location in Anambra State but the police operatives handling the case said more money is needed to travel to Anambra and arrest the woman.”

She said the policemen that are handling the case claimed that the community where the woman holding their son lives was under siege by separatist agitators and unknown gunmen.

“The police told us that they were going to embark on a dangerous mission to rescue our son from the woman and that the community where she was traced to in Anambra is a hotbed of unknown gunmen and Biafra agitators.

“My husband and I have spent all the money we have and we even borrowed money that we have been unable to repay. Our headache now is that we don’t have a million naira and this means that we may never see our son again if we can’t provide the money requested by the police.”

“I want the public to assist us so our son can be rescued and reunited with us safely. My husband and I have no money left as I have sold all my goods in the course of looking for my son.”

While one of the children Akuba stole in the Oko-Oba area of Agege was recovered from her, Sultan has not been recovered.

According to Sultan’s mother, Zainab, when Akuba was arrested and detained by the police, she visited her at the Elere Police Division in Agege where she was detained after one of the children she stole was recovered from her in Anambra State.

Zainab said her joy knew no bounds when the Akuba confessed that Sultan was one of the children she trafficked to Anambra State and that her son would be recovered before long.

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