The Bayelsa Command of Department of State Services on Wednesday said it has smashed a child trafficking syndicate and rescued 36 trafficked children.
Briefing journalists on the operation, the Deputy Director at Bayelsa Command of the SSS said the operation was carried out on July 6, 2015 and led to the arrest of four suspects.
He said the victims, comprising 12 males and 24 females, were rescued from homes in Yenagoa and Kaiama in Bayelsa, Port Harcourt, and Enugu-Agidi in Anambra. The victims were made house helps.
Mr. Onuche said the suspected syndicates operated under the guise of missionaries and Non-Government Organizations and target vulnerable children from Zamfara, Kaduna and Kebbi states; then traffic them to the southern part of the country.
According to the DSS, the parents of the children are usually approached and convinced to release their wards under the pretext of assisting the children to acquire good education only for the children to end up as house helps.
“There is need therefore for members of the public to be sensitized on the need to be circumspect in the way they give out children or take in children from such unscrupulous modern day slave traders,” Mr. Onuche said.
In their testimonies, some of the children who narrated their ordeal to journalists said that the missionaries who arranged with their parents to place them in choice schools reneged on their promises and handed them to foster parents.
“The pastors came to our villages in Zaria and convinced some parents who are unable to train their children in schools. When we got to Bayelsa they took us to different homes.
“The woman I was asked to live with used to assign me to the farm and I also sold water for her. I no longer went to school. I started school at the beginning of the term but she told me to stop school now,” one of the trafficked children said.
Meanwhile, the three male suspects who claimed to be clergymen with Assemblies of God Mission maintained that acted on humanitarian grounds and merely collected transport ‘fares’ from prospective parents.
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