The Divisional Police Officer in charge of the Funbi-Fagun Police Division, Mr. Olu-Ojo Ogunmoyole, said the suspects who specialised in street begging business were indigenes of Ibadan, Oyo State.
He said they were arrested with five underage children, who were between ages eight and 10, in various locations in the community after complaints by residents of the town.
“The suspects always pretended to be blind and went about with the young boys to beg for alms on a daily basis,” he added.
One of the suspects, who gave her name as Folasade Iyiola, said she relocated from Ibadan to Ondo town recently to practise street begging where there would be no relatives to recognise her.
She explained that she picked two of the pupils in different locations in Ibadan without the knowledge of their parents, adding that she had been in the business for over three years.
She said, “I was introduced into street begging business by Mujidat (Wahab), who is one of the suspects, in Ibadan. She asked me if she could get underaged children that could be used for the business, and I helped her to get two children. I later joined her in Ondo for the business.
One of the victims, who gave his name as Ibrahim, said he was a primary six pupil in Ibadan. He said he was in the midst of his friends in Ibadan, celebrating the last Sallah festival when he was kidnapped by Mujidat and taken to Ondo.
Speaking in Yoruba language, Ibrahim said “On that day, the woman held my hands, and I could not remember anything again. I later discovered that I was already in Ondo town.
“A few days later, we started the street begging business. The first town we visited was Akure and we made a lot of money.
“Later, I started dreaming about my mother; that was why I told Fatai (one of the victims) that I will run back to Ibadan.”
He explained that after escaping from the child traffickers, they became hungry and begged a woman for food. He said the woman took them to the police station.
When contacted on the telephone, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr. Femi Joseph said the suspects and the five children were still in the police custody.
“We have commenced investigation into the matter and the suspects would soon be charged to court, “ Joseph said .