Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Marine team of Nigeria Immigration rescues ''trafficked three-week old baby'' on high sea [photos]

The Marine Patrol team of the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, in Cross River has rescued a three-weeks old baby suspected to be a victim of child trafficking at the high sea.

The Cross River Comptroller of NIS, Mr Okey Ezugwu, who spoke with Vanguard on the incident in Calabar, said that the suspected child trafficker, Mrs Maureen Awokara, was arrested on Dec. 19, 2020, at the high sea.

Ezugwu said that the suspect was arrested by the marine officers on patrol following her inability to give a comprehensive explanation on the true ownership of the baby.

“He said: “A few days ago, our officers at the marine patrol at the international waterways intercepted one Maureen Awokara, who claimed to be a native of Imo state with a three-weeks old child.

“During the arrest, she came up with all stories that were not adding up. Initially, she said the child belongs to her sister, yet we have carried out a preliminary investigation and all the lines she gave us to reach the sister, one Chioma Iweh is not connecting.

“At this point, we are going to hand her over to NAPTIP for further investigations. The preliminary investigation gives us every reason to believe that the little child is been trafficked.

“The suspect claimed she is going to Cameroon, Gabon and wherever. We are suspecting a cartel deal because over time, we have had a lot of surveillance and serious checks at our border basis and the airport, making it impossible for any of them to use these routes.

“We are looking at a situation where they have now devised a means of using the waterways, using small boats to take away these little children along,” he said.

He further explained that effort by the command to get in contact with other family members to ascertain if the family members were in agreement for her to take the baby away have proved abortive because the suspect was not willing to give them useful information on the matter.

Ezugwu disclosed that the NIS marine patrol team will continue to police the waterways with a view to ensure that all forms of child trafficking and other act of criminality are suppressed.