It was confirmed that a 20-year-old man, Samuel Olabanji, has been arrested by the police for allegedly stealing a two-year-old boy while the child was returning from an Arabic school on Tunkarimu Street, Ajegunle, Lagos.
The boy, Rokeeb Akinwale, was said to have gone to the school on February 25 in company with 10-year-old Shukra, a neigbour, who strapped him to her back while returning home around 6pm.
It was learnt that Olabanji reportedly waylaid Shukra by the roadside and snatched the boy from her.
The abduction was said to have been reported at the Ajegunle Police Division the same day by Rokeeb’s mother, Mrs. Sadiat Akinwale, after searching for him to no avail.
The toddler had yet to be found as of Thursday when our correspondent spoke with the mother.
On February 29, the suspects and three men were said to have returned to the area for another operation when he was caught while the others escaped.
It was learnt that a mob beat him up before the police came to his rescue.
The police said Olabanji had confessed to the crime, adding that a manhunt had been launched for the fleeing members of the gang.
The suspect, who hails from Kwara State, told the police that he and his accomplices snatched a child from a girl and had stolen one other baby in the Ajegunle area earlier in February.
He said, “I am a secondary school leaver. Presently, I don’t have any job. I am into kidnapping with Sunday, Bidemi and Tunde. We came to Ajegunle sometime in February and kidnapped two kids. We took them to one Rasheed, who lives in Ipaja Ayobo and he paid us for the children.
“On February 29, we came back to Ajegunle to steal another baby, but I was caught while others escaped.”
Rokeeb’s mother said she believed that her son would be protected at his captors’ den and be reunited safely with his family.
She said, “That was not the first time Shukra would take him to the school. She said Rokeeb was crying when a man approached her. He took him from her back, claiming that he wanted to pacify him. Before she knew, the man had disappeared. We have searched for him. I have faith in God that he will come back to us.”
A police prosecutor, Sergeant Francisca Okere, brought Olabanji before an Apapa Magsitrate’s Court on two counts of child stealing – an offence said to be punishable under sections 275 and 409 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, Nigeria, 2011.
The charges read, “That you, Samuel Olabanji and others at large in February 2016, on Tunkarimu Street, Ajegunle Apapa, in the Apapa Magisterial District, did conspire among yourselves to commit felony to wit: child stealing.”
The accused pleaded guilty to the charges before the magistrate, Mrs. A.O. Adegite.
The magistrate subsequently adjourned till March 14, 2016 for facts and sentence.