Osaruoname Omokpia is not a happy man. His sorrow began on June 24, 2018. That day marked the beginning of his recurring nightmare. On that day, two female tenants abducted his daughters, Christabel and Amanda. The culprits, Rose and Mary, kidnapped the minors and sold them to one Joy Odeh thus injecting agony into the lives of the Omokpias.
However, in May, this year, fate deigned Omokpia a patronising smile as little Christabel was recovered in Enugu State from one Anioke Augustine, who bought her for N800,000. The recovery of Christabel uncovered a huge network of individuals engaged in sale and trafficking of children in the country.
It was a tortuous investigation by men of the Edo State Police Command as they journeyed through five states in trail of Christabel before they recovered her.
When Christabel and her sister were taken away, their abductors took them to Ondo State, where they were sold to Odeh. Police investigators made a breakthrough in their search as they managed to track Mary’s phone to somebody she sold it to at Onitsha.
Mary was eventually arrested and she is currently serving a jail term in Ondo State. Her confession led to the arrest of her accomplice, Odeh, in Ondo State. Joy confessed to police interrogators that she received the children from Mary and sold them to one Rita Eze, aged 49, in Onitsha at the rate of N300,000 for five-year-old Amanda and N450,000 for Christabel.
The police tracked Ogechi, aged 33, to Afam Community in Rivers State and discovered that she sold Christabel to one Comfort Dike John, who operates an Orphanage home in Okigwe, Imo State at N500,000.
Comfort was nabbed and she confessd to the police, that she resold Christabel for N850,000 with the support of one Glory Onuoha aged 38, Okeke Chinyere aged 39, Akubor Evangelina aged 38, Ifeoma Adindu aged 40 to Anioke Augusta aged 48.
Augusta took Christabel to Enugu State, gave her a new home and sent her to school.
In a chat with newsmen, Anioke denied involvement in the theft, saying she only adopted Christabel from an orphanage. She claimed that her only offence was that she did not follow due process.
“I agreed to adopt the baby when I saw “government approved” written on the sign board.
Comfort said she bought the baby at N500,000 from Ogechi because she told her that the girl’s father was dead.
“I did not know that the baby was stolen. But I only collected N700,000 from the woman who adopted her and not N850,000,” she said.
Pastor Chinyere Okeke, however, said that she was not aware that the baby was stolen because they were given papers to legitimise the transaction.
“I only took the buyer to the orphanage. I did not know that the baby was stolen. It is painful because of the embarrassment.” she said
In search of Amanda, the police tracked Uju, 35, to Asaba, Delta State and she confessed that she sold Amanda to one woman at Ogwa-Chukwu, who the police later confirmed to be dead.
This created a dilemma for the police as all clues to recover little Amanda had been lost with the death of her last buyer.
Spokesman for Edo Police Command, DSP Chidi Nwabuzor, said initial efforts to find the children failed and the case was referred to the Special Anti-kidnapping and Cyber Crime Unit headed by SP Richard Balogun, who tracked the suspects and rescued one of the two stolen children
Nwabuzor said the police would leave no stone unturned to recover Amanda.
Back at home, Christabel is yet to start school. Her father said he wants to watch her and spend time with her. He said it was difficult to explain the mental torture he went through in the quest to get his two daughters back.
Osaruoname said he could not state how much he spent to do all kind of things aimed at getting his children. He said he and the rest of the family are praying constantly for the police to recover Amanda.
On whether Christabel is asking of Amanda, he said she called her my sister anytime she sees her photograph.
“We are praying for the police to get our remaining daughter back. Christabel has been doing well since she came back.”