By Ovatomi Ibingha
Cross River State Command of the Vigilante Group of Nigeria recently arrested a man suspected to be a child trafficker in Abana, Bakassi Local Government Area of Cross River State just as two victims were rescued.
The State Commander, Vigilante Group of Nigeria, Dr. Mercy Effiom made this known in her Calabar office while addressing members of the press.
According to her, “My Divisional Vigilante Officer (DVO) in Bakassi tipped me about kidnapping of some children on March 18, 2015, I ordered my Ikang Divisional Vigilante Officer to go back and make sure the suspect is arrested and brought to me for onward handing over to the police for further investigation and prosecution.”
Following her directive, one Mr. Godknows Okon Edem, a fisherman and a native of Ikot Obio Okon in Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State residing at Abana was arrested by her men.
Furthermore, the Cross River State Commander asserted that during interrogation, the suspect confessed that there is a particular woman who on regular basis supply children to him and others who have need for children adding that he pays the woman N10,000 (Ten Thousand Naira) monthly.
Dr. Mercy Effiom once again pleaded with the State Governor, Senator Liyel Imoke and the forthcoming administration to assist the Command by providing it with basic equipment to aid and improve their job and enhance more productivity as well as incorporate the organization into the scheme of security operatives in the state with a view to further spur men of her Command, maintaining that “We are prepared to help fight crime in the state since our motto is SAY NO TO CRIME.”
She also solicited for the cooperation of other security agents in the state and called on parents to watch over and take proper care of their children especially when they are playing around.
On his part, the Deputy Vigilante Group Officer in Bakassi, Mr. Duke Bassey Ekpenyong said, few weeks ago, he received a phone call from one Mr. Ebito Okon an Inspector of the Vigilante Group of Nigeria who resides at Iniabasi that, he woke up one morning and found a small boy lying down outside and when he enquired from the boy why he was lying down outside. The boy said somebody brought him and three others there from Akwa Ibom and that, they do not know where they were adding that the most senior amongst them has escaped.
According to Mr. Ekpenyong, “When I got to Iniabasi where the boy is, the boy told me that they were playing in their village, Ikot Obio Okon, situated in Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom when a man came with a motorcycle and pretended that the motorcycle refused to start and requested the four boys to assist him push the motorcycle in order for it to start.
“As the boys pushed the motorcycle to a point where there are no houses the bike suddenly started, and the man brought out handkerchief, place it on their heads and thanked the boys for a job well-done” adding that right from that point, the boys did not know themselves again until he took them to Cross River.
In a separate interview, the alleged kidnapper, Mr. Godknows Okon Edem who said he is 31 years of age, stated that he requested for a house-help and somebody brought the boys to him adding that the eldest of them has escaped.
Godknows Okon Edem who spoke in Ibibio dialect through an interpreter said, I asked the lady who brought the children to me about their mother and she told me that the children belong to her sister and that they don’t like going to school.
Narrating their nightmare, Promise Eme Effiong and Abasi-ifreke who are between 12 and 10 years said, they were playing in their village, Ikot Obio Okon in Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, a man came with his motorcycle and asked them to help him push the bike because, according to him it has refused to start and “we help him push the motorcycle to a place where there are no houses the bike started and the man brought out handkerchief and used it to touch our heads and thanking us for helping him to push the motorcycle.
“Right from the place he touched our heads with the handkerchief, we could not understand what was going, and we didn’t know ourselves again and could not communicate with anybody. Even when we got to some Police Check Points, the Policemen there asked the man if we are his children, he said yes! We could not say anything until he took us to one place and they later handed us over to this man. We were four in number but the other boy who is bigger than us has escaped and someone came and took one boy away.”
As at the time of filling this report, the suspect including the two boys have been handed over to the Nigeria Police for further investigation and prosecution.