Fifteen suspected trafficked children were rescued by operatives of the Rivers State Police Command from the residence of one Maureen Wechinwu, who claimed to be a Reverend Sister, in Aluu Community, Ikwerre Local Government Area of the State.
During the parade of suspects by the State Commissioner of Police, Friday Eboka, it was revealed that the children rescued from the suspected trafficker were aged between seven and nine years.
The CP said preliminary investigations have shown that the children were picked from different parts of the South-South states and were being sold out to people. He said it took over 24 hours before the children were able to tell their experiences to the police, adding that they were being tortured and maybe hypnotised as well.
The CP said: “On September 3, 2022, ‘Operation Restore Peace’ personnel of the command, acting on credible information regarding hideout of child traffickers, stormed Omuigwe, Abuja Phase II, Aluu, in Ikwerre Local Government Area, where a lady who claimed to be a Rev. Sister, Maureen Wechinwu, aged 44yrs, was arrested.
“Fifteen children were rescued, and the case was transferred to CP Monitoring Unit for discrete investigation. Investigation revealed the following facts: Prosper Godwin (m) was abducted at Ikpazasia market in Bayelsa State on 31/10/2020, together with two others whom he does not know their whereabouts and was taken to the suspect.
“Later, he (Prosper) was sold to a woman in Lagos and subsequently returned to the suspect. The parents, Mr and Mrs Godwin Ododor have been contacted and they corroborated the statement of the child.”
He further said : “Queen Harry (f) was abducted at Ojukwu filed Mile 1, Diobu, Port Harcourt at about 1900hrs, while on an errand with the elder sister. The mother, Mrs Florence has been contacted and she corroborated the facts.“
Maureen Wechinwu in an interview stated that she has become a disgrace to her people and herself, insisting that she is not into trafficking.
Maureen said: “I run an orphanage home with children of mad people. Fransisca Onyinyechi, who was given birth to by a mad woman in Ogbogoro community market is one.
“I cannot say that I am a reverend sister now that I am a disgrace. But I believe I am before now. I am of the Ladies of Victory Missionary Sisters. It is in England, a Foreign Congregation. I am the only Nigerian in it.
“Some of the children are mad people’s children. The others are brought to me by one Mr Victor. Sometimes he comes with them in twos. One Miss Alice brought two to me. Alice said since I am a beginner that I should take them.
“Sometimes when Victor brings children he will be demanding money. But due to the pressure on me sometimes I give N50,000, N60,000, and N100,000.“
Victims’ mothers speak
Two women, who have already identified their children at the police headquarters in Rivers State, expressed joy over the police operation that led to the rescue of their children.
Glory Onyia, mother of one of the rescued children disclosed that her child was missing five months ago, adding that the family has been in pain.
Onyia said: “My child got missing on April 22, 2022. He is an 8-year-old boy. I have been moving around from church to church. I even went to Okporo Police station to give reports.
“I am very happy. When he saw me he was very happy, shouting Mummy and everybody in our compound shouted when the police brought him. I went out and when I returned I did not see my child till night, I searched for him all around.”
Also, Nkechinyere Harry, said: “My daughter is Queen Harry, she is 9 years old. She was kidnapped at Mile one close to Ojukwu field, I sent her to go to the market where they sell bole. I usually send her to go there to get yam peels for our goats.
“I sent her elder sister, she and her younger sister went. When they got there one man sent her elder on an errand, but as she returned from the errand she could not find her again. She returned to the house but could not find her.”