Concerns Over Growing Cases Of Child Theft
ON a daily basis, reports of theft of children assail us in the Nigerian society. The phenomenon has become a widespread menace in recent times. Various reports in the media are pointers that there is an increase in the stealing and kidnapping of children in the country with the sordid details by those apprehended for such acts. Children are the products and constant reminders of the biological function of reproduction that persons fulfill as normal human beings.
They are the future. They are the assurance of the continuity of the human society in an orderly, harmonious and happy manner. The child has a very special place in society, and society defines and shapes childhood. As such, when such a practice like child theft violates their wellbeing with impunity, it is a revolt on the collective conscience of the people to such a degree that may permanently adversely affect the existence of that society. By their nature they deserve protection. Yet, they are the most vulnerable members of the society. This is because they lack the physical, mental and emotional maturity required to face life.
They, therefore, need to have special safeguards, care and protection, hence the enactment of The Child’s Rights Act. There is no gain saying that child theft has long been in practice. There is the story of our ugly past of slave trade in this part of the world involving even children. Even the bible has a record of a theft of a baby born by a prostitute by another prostitute.
In our present circumstance, there are indications that stealing of children is an organised racket where children are snatched from their biological parents. A whole lot of reasons ranging from human trafficking for monetary gains, ritual purposes; childlessness; abduction for ransom; and even hatred or jealousy have been linked to this despicable act.
In recent times, the emergence of baby factories has added another dimension to this anti-social phenomenon. No place is spared. From schools, homes, religious places, streets, neighbourhoods, and maternity homes to any place that a child can be found have come stories of children who were stolen at one time or the other. The result is that parents and caregivers are now on edge over the safety of their children even right under their noses. This therefore, places a huge burden on society concerning the practice and attitudes that now make children endangered specie.
For instance, last week, a woman, Chinasa Ajunwo, 22, was paraded at the State Police Headquarters, Moscow Road, Port Harcourt for stealing with her husband a five-year-old boy. The boy, Michael Michael, the mother Evelyn disclosed had lived with his suspected kidnapper for three months, stressing that he was declared missing on April 17, 2015. He was playing outside with friends in their compound in Ogbogoro community of Obio/Akpor Local Council of Rivers State when the suspect, Ajunwo beckoned on him to come. Chinasa, it was gathered, pretended to have known Michael before, as she interacted freely with the boy, thereby deflecting any suspicious motives from onlookers. Evelyn said her neighbour in Obio/Akpor, who hails from Ogbakiri where Michael was taken to, travelled home to see her parents and on her way back, she sighted the boy when her abductor was taking him to school and informed his family.
Also lasttwo weeks ago, a 20-month old child, Opeyemi Ogundele was reported stolen during a naming ceremony in Abeokuta. The incident happened at Mile 2, Iyana Concord, Akorede Estate, Ilugun Inukosegba Community in Abeokuta North Local Government Area of the state. Elizabeth Ogundele, 26, mother of the toddler, who narrated her ordeal, said she was getting ready for her niece’s naming ceremony when she discovered her son was missing. The Commissioner of Police, Abdulmajid Ali, who confirmed the incidence, said that investigations were ongoing.
The case of the family of Mr. and Mrs. Leke Orekoya whose children three children aged six, four and 11 months in April 2015 will remain a constant reminder of this criminal activity for residents of Lagos State. In April 2015, the Imo State Police Command burst a child-stealing syndicate, believed to be responsible for the reported thefts and child-trafficking cases in the state. Among the cases was that of a two-week-old baby boy, who was sold to a couple, Mr. and Mrs. Paulinus Ogugua of Umueji-Agha, Akokwa, Ideato North Local Government Area of the state.
In March this year, it was reported that a middle-aged woman in Oguta local government area of Imo State was stripped naked for allegedly stealing a 12-month-old old baby boy from where he was kept by the mother at a motor park. According to the report, the suspect had noticed that the baby’s mother had left him to buy sachet water and immediately grabbed the boy before but luck ran out on him as vigilant passengers at the park noticed her and retrieved the baby.
She was later handed her over to the police. In another vein, a middle-aged man narrowly escaped being lynched in January for allegedly attempting to steal a three-year-old child in the Agbe Road in Abule Egba area of Lagos. It was reported that he was trying to lure the child with a piece of biscuit. At a point, he carried the child and made to hurry out of the place the mother of the child was alerted. The irate crowd that gathered as a result was said to have dragged him to a nearby police station from where he was transferred to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) at Panti, Yaba, Lagos Mainland.
Also, sometime last year, the Department of State Services (DSS) in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State stated that it recovered eight children who were stolen by child trafficking syndicate in the state. In February last year, Kaduna State Police Command has said it had recovered a two‑month‑old baby, Sulaiman Adamu, stolen from his mother. It said the mother of the baby, Marwan Adamu, had earlier reported the case at the Police Divisional Headquarters in Rigachukwu the previous month.