The police in Onitsha, Anambra, has smashed a syndicate that specialises in stealing and selling children, an official said on Wednesday.
The police also arrested the alleged leader and seven other suspects, including a nurse, Mr Emeka Ejide, the director, Anambra Ministry of Women and Social Development, told newsmen on telephone.
Ejidesaid that the fight against human trafficking in the state would be sustained and commended the police for a successful operation.
However, Mr Emeka Chukwuemeka, the Police Public Relations Officer in Anambra, said he had yet to be briefed on the matter.
But a police source said the alleged leader of the syndicate acted as an intermediary between the traffickers and the buyers.
The source said that the traffickers had an operational base in Okigwe, Imo, from where the child stealing gang leader came to Onitsha and its environs to steal children after luring them with gifts.
`The source said the leader of the syndicate had been on the watch list of the police after many parents reported about their missing children.
``The woman normally steals these children on Saturdays when they are at home after taking advantage of the absence of their parents to carry out her operation, often times she pretends to be a relative.
``When she observes that no one is watching, she will steal the children and take them to Imo where they will be sold to unsuspecting couples looking for a child to be adopted.
``The police acted on a tip-off and swooped on the woman and rescued five children, whose ages range between six months and two years,’’ the source said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) learnt that four of the five rescued children have been reunited with their biological parents.
NANlearnt that the suspected syndicate leader has volunteered information that could lead to the rescue of other children who had been sold.