Benue State security agencies are faced with the challenge of unravelling a syndicate stealing children from parents.“In the last seven weeks, the syndicate, according to security sources, has made away with over 30 children, aged one to seven. At press time, it was learnt that none of the children had been found.
“The development has forced many parents to take measures to keep their wards safe especially at schools and places of worship in the state.“Though the police claimed they were on top of the situation and were making efforts to nab the masterminds of the crime, mothers of some of the snatched children felt otherwise.“The mothers kept lamenting that the police had not done enough to rescue the children and apprehend the masterminds to stem the wave.
“The aggrieved mothers took their case to journalists on Thursday, in Makurdi, the state capital, where they told stories of how their children went missing without trace.“One of the women, Mrs. Ngodoo Amiaser, 30, a mother of three, said her son, Tersoo Paul Amiaser, a four-year-old pupil of Joel Model School, Gboko Road, Makurdi, went missing since August 29.“Ngodoo, a cassava floor and raw ‘akpu’ seller at Wurukum market, Makurdi, told her heart-rending story.
“She recalled that on the fateful day, her son had gone with her to the market and that while she was attending to customers, he went to play nearby with his age mates and got missing.“”My son went to play within the market with his mates, which was his routine whenever i took him to the market. However, on that day, he left my shop at about 4pm, but, by 5pm when he usually returns, I didn’t see him.
“”I went looking for him. In the process, a young girl said she saw him with a woman who she could not identify and asked where the woman was going with the boy but the woman told the girl she was my sister and that I had asked her to go and buy juice for my son.“”The matter was reported to the police who have been investigating the issue but, till date, I’ve not seen Tersoo. I don’t know where they’ve taken him to. I’m begging whoever took my son to return him.
He is too innocent for anyone to harm him”.“The stories of Mrs. Wandoo Hemkya, Mrs. Charity Otumala and Doosuur Aer are not different. Their children were also taken away by strange persons at different locations in Benue.“Hemkya, who broke down and wept profusely while speaking with newsmen, said she left her son, Shaaondo, with her sister to attend a burial programme in the village but, on getting back, she was told that somebody, who introduced himself as an ‘uncle’, took him away, claiming he was going to buy sweet for him.“”My neigbours said the man, who took Shaaondo, pretended to be a close relative and just deceived them and took my son away in broad day light”, she narrated.
“”Up till today, there is no news as to his whereabouts or as to those who took him away and for what reason. I’m urging the police to redouble their efforts in the search for my son. The pain of him being taken away in the manner they did is too much for me to bear”.“On their part, Otumala and Doosuur, who claimed they lived within the same neighborhood in Wadata area of Makurdi, lost their sons, aged four and six, same day after an unidentified person took them away from where they were playing.
“The women, whose husbands were mostly commercial bus drivers, said they had reported the matter to the police and appealed to members of the public to pray along with them and avail the police information on how they could find the children.“”We are neigbours in Wadata and our children are always playing together until few days back when unknown persons picked them and took them away from where they usually played”, they stated.
“”Since the incident, we have been combing the neighbourhood for them but we could not see any trace of them; we have also not known peace and we have never had good sleep since their sudden disappearance.“”The matter was reported to the police but nothing has come out of their investigations but we are hopeful that the police will find our children and return them back to us in good health”.
“Newsmen also learned that a one-year-old baby was in the early hours of last Sunday snatched from the back of her mother while on her way to worship at Saint Peter’s Catholic Church, Wurukum, Makurdi.“According to an eyewitness, who craved anonymity, the baby was snatched from the mother at the gate of the church by two men on motorbike, who dragged the baby from the back of the mother.“’They dragged the baby from the woman who was going to church with her child and sped off before anyone could realize what was happening”, the eye witness said.
“”The truth is that child snatchers are on the prowl in Benue and the earlier the police take proactive steps to tackle it the better for everyone because as everyone is scared; even when you drop off your children in school, you are not at peace until you pick them.”“Benue State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Deputy Police Superintendent, DSP, Austin Ezeani, stated that the police were aware of the development and was doing everything possible to track down the syndicate behind the crime.
“”We are not resting, until all those behind the crime are arrested and the abducted children recovered and returned to their parents”, he stated.“Speaking on the issue, Governor Samuel Ortom acknowledged that he had received information about syndicates that abduct children in the state.“Ortom said, “It is a strange development in this part of the country, it is highly condemnable and unacceptable for anyone to resort to stealing children.“”We will not allow such highly reprehensible activity in this state, we will collaborate with security agencies to ensure that the menace is tackled and all those behind it brought to justice.