(Femi Folaranmi, YENAGOA)
The Bayelsa State Police Command has nabbed a suspected child trafficking syndicate in the southern state.
According to investigations, a Police Patrol team on a routine stop and search along the East-West road intercepted the suspected syndicate in two vehicles conveying 12 children into the state for alleged child labour and child trafficking.
The two vehicles, a Mazda 626 with registration number BC 645 KSF and a Jetta with registration number DX 643 PH travelling from Akwa Ibom to Bayelsa had conveyed nine females and three males aged between five and 17 years.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) Ansim Butswat who paraded the suspects at the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID), Yenagoa, said they were arrested on during a routine stop and search operation along the Glory Land Drive.
“Policemen during routine stop and search operation at the Glory Land Drive (in Yenagoa) arrested the two vehicles carrying these children.When they were interrogated, they could not tell where they were going. They said their parents are here in Bayelsa, but till now, none of their relatives have come to claim them,” Butswat said.
He gave the identities of the prime suspects and drivers of the two cars as Inemesi Koffi and Geoffrey Ezekiel, both from Akwa Ibom.
He said the police were suspecting the syndicate to be involved in child labour or child trafficking since the children are very young and cannot say their destination.
Butswat said the children have been handed over to the social welfare department of the state Ministry of Women Affairs while investigation is ongoing.
However in an interview, Inemesi Koffi, claimed that the parents and guardians of the children asked him to help carry the children to Yenagoa to spend holidays with them.
Koffi, a commercial transport operator in Bayelsa, narrated that he was in his village, Nkana in Etinan LGA for a burial event when the children’s parents contacted him and sought assistance.
He said some of the children’s parents are vegetable sellers at the Swali Market and operators of restaurants in Yenagoa.