A 25-year-old woman, Ogechi Njoku, and two accomplices have been arrested by the police in Lagos after they allegedly stole a week-old baby from Imo State, and sold him to a couple in the Cele, Mile 2 area of the state for the sum of N1m.
PUNCH Metro learnt that Njoku was arrested by policemen attached to the Makinde division around 2am on Wednesday, November 4, on her way to deliver the baby to the couple.
Our correspondent gathered that during investigation, Njoku led the State Intelligence Bureau, which handled the matter, to arrest her two accomplices – Patience Nwaogbo and Ngozi Izuora.
It was learnt that Njoku, a sales girl in Omuwa Town, Imo, was sent by her accomplices last Tuesday to Lagos, and had travelled in a car with the baby throughout the night.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the commercial driver, however, became suspicious when Njoku could not breastfeed the baby when he cried, but instead gave him baby food.
The driver was said to have alerted the police on patrol when they got to the Oshodi Oke area of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, and Njoku was interrogated and arrested.
According to the police, Njoku, Nwaogbo and Izuora have made confessional statements, while their collaborator, said to be Njoku’s aunt, is still on the run.
Njoku, who claimed to have four children in Imo, said the plan was that she would give the baby to the couple in the Cele area, adding that he, however, started crying when they got to Lagos.
She said, “I have not been to Lagos before. I work as an apprentice in a shop in Onitsha, Anambra State. It was my aunt, Madam Ngozi, who asked me to bring the baby to the couple after they had made payment to her.
“My aunt collected the baby from a lady in Imo who wanted to dispose of him. I do not know how much she gave the mother of the baby. I started off this journey at about 11am on Tuesday. I took a private car and my aunt paid the fare.
“She had collected the N1m, but she had yet to give me any share as of when I travelled. While in the car, I could not breastfeed the baby. I was giving him only baby food.
“When we got to Lagos, the baby started crying and I gave him more formula. I had not met the buyers before. I was only given their phone number and I was to meet them in the Cele area. The wife of the man is barren, and she wanted to adopt the baby. The police have arrested the couple too, but they were released on bail.”
Njoku, who noted that she did not mean any harm to the baby, said her children were with a guardian in Imo.
“The driver suspected that I was not the baby’s mother and reported me to policemen on patrol. I have four children too in Imo. They are with a guardian. But I am not living with my husband. We had a quarrel,” she added.
Our correspondent learnt that the baby, who was under police care, had yet to be reunited with his parents.
The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, who paraded the suspect, said the police were on the trail of other members of the syndicate in Imo State.
He said, “We have always enjoined members of the public to report suspicious persons or movements to the police. This time we were alerted by a commercial driver that the suspect was not the mother of the baby.
“Upon arrest and interrogation, she confessed that her aunty, a co-suspect, had given her the baby to sell. We have the baby now in police protection under the Family Support Unit, and investigation is ongoing to apprehend other members of the syndicate in Imo State.”