The Ebonyi State Police Command, on Friday, confirmed the arrest of three suspects who specialise in trafficking underaged children from different parts of the country for forced labour and sexual exploitation.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Loverth Odah, who made the disclosure while parading the suspects at the Police B Division in Abakaliki, said that 32 victims were rescued from the suspects.
DSP Odah stated that on January 7, 2022 at about 9:30am, one Mrs. Nwankwo Ijeoma of Uteruife Village in Ebonyi local government area of the state reported a case of her missing 14 year-old daughter, Nwankwo Chidera.
The Police spokesperson said that in the cause of investigation, a company’s advertisment flier captioned “Neo Life” containing a phone number was found in the daughter’s room, adding that the owner of the phone number, one Christian Nwankwo, aged 19 years, was trailed and arrested.
DSP Odah added that the suspect led police operatives to their hideout at Okposi Umuaghara in Ezza North LGA of the state where two other members of his gang were arrested. She gave their names as, Nwagboduhu Ekene , Male, aged 20 years and Nwaoko Godwin, Male, aged 24 years.
The PPRO further said 16 males and 15 females who are indigenes of Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Benue, Abia and Rivers States were rescued from them.
She added that while victims were rescued in Ebonyi, Chidera Nwankwo was traced to Imo State where she was also rescued.
She said that a suspected trafficker who posed as the company representative tricked Chidera into running away from her parent’s house to Imo State, adding that an apartment was rented for her and other children where she was serially abused sexually.
“Our preliminary investigation revealed that the children are trafficked from different parts of the country and are being used for forced labour and sexual exploitation in the name of networking/Hawking NEO Life company products,” the statement said.
Odah said that so far, the command has a total number of 18 unclaimed children rescued from the suspected traffickers and urged parents whose children are missing to come to the Command headquarters for identification and possible claim.