A three-week old baby suspected to be a victim of child trafficking was on Tuesday rescued at the Marine Patrol team of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) in Cross River.
Mr Okey Ezugwu, Cross River Comptroller of NIS, identified the suspected child trafficker as one Mrs Maureen Awokara.
The suspect was arrested following her inability to give a comprehensive explanation on the true ownership of the baby on Dec 19 at the high sea.
Ezugwu said “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, (name withheld), is not connecting.
“At this point, we are going to hand her over to NAPTIP for further investigations. Preliminary investigation gives us every reason to believe that the little child is being trafficked.
“The suspect claims 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 device a means of using the waterways, using small boats to take away these little children along,” he said.
He further stated that efforts to contact other family members proved abortive because the suspect was not willing to provide useful information.
But speaking to NAN, Awokara, 40, maintained that the baby belongs to her younger sister who could not afford to take care of her after delivery on Dec. 2.
She told NAN that her younger sister gave her the child in Imo State because she has been married for 18 years without a child.
The suspect added that her sister’s phone number isn’t connecting.
“The only time her number went through, I only heard a man’s voice, which was not her own,” she said.