As many as thirty children and teenagers from Ebonyi State have been rescued from human traffickers in Ogun State, The Nation reports.
The trafficked children are all indigenes of Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
They were rescued through the support of the member representing Ikwo/Ezza South Federal Constituency in the National Assembly, Chinedu Ogah, in conjunction with the Lagos branch of Ikwo Development Union (IDU).
A video had gone viral of some of the children showing marks and injuries they allegedly suffered at the hands of a man named Jeremiah Morris, a kinsman who allegedly took them to Ogun State and forced them to hawk for him.
The video got to the union and the lawmaker who pooled resources together and sent a team to Ogun State to rescue the children.
Mr Imeba Igwe, Secretary Ikwo Development Union, Lagos Branch, who led the rescue mission, confirmed that the children were all from Ikwo Local Government Area.
He said some of them had left their villages in Ikwọ because of the incessant communal clashes in their area.
The IDU Secretary also said the suspected trafficker, Jeremiah, had been arrested and was in police custody.
He said: “This is a difficult situation. The children we met are about 30 in number and between 12 and 13 years of age, and some others under Ogun State police custody are said to be between 18 and 20 years old.
“It was narrated that Mr Jeremiah Morris took them to Ogun State for safety reasons but dumped them on arrival, each living by survival of the fittest, including prostitution and others.
“We gathered that Jeremiah could not take care of them, and after suffering starvation and hunger at his hands, they tried to engage in menial jobs for daily bread.
“In the process, those in charge of destitute caught them. Since they could not explain themselves fluently in English, they were tortured and bullied.”
“The culprit was rounded up along with the children based on a tip off from concerned citizens who suspected a foul play from the man after noticing that he kept bringing underage children in their numbers to this particular location.
“The children said that he brought them here to hawk groundnuts for him. A good number of them were in JSS 1, 2 and 3 before they were brought here and they have been hawking groundnuts for him since they came.
“Some have been here for two years, some for six months while some of them came this January.
“It was at this moment that some of them between the age of 18 and 20 were arrested, including Mr Jeremiah Morris, and taken to the police station at Songhai in Ogun State.”
Narrating the circumstances surrounding their abduction, one of the children identified as Ifunanya Nwite from Inyimagu in Ikwo Local Government Area said she left Ikwo last year for Ogun State because of the crisis that erupted in her community.
She said their mother asked them to join Jeremiah to Ogun State for their safety, and when they arrived, he told them that they would not go home by December.
She said they couldn’t go back to school because of the situation they found themselves in Ogun State.
Another victim, Elom Oluchi from Nduodumechara in the same Local Government said that her siblings and mother were dead.
She said her sister, who is Jeremiah’s wife, asked her to join him to Ogun State so that she would get assistance from him since she was already learning some hand work and she would continue from where she stopped.
Igwe commended the lawmaker for his timely intervention and support which led to the rescue of the children.
“Ikwo Development Union (IDU), Lagos dispatched a team of observers to the location to assess the true condition of the children.
“We must always be our brother’s keeper. A big thank you to Cjinedu Ogah for always being there for all Ikwo sons and daughters,” he said.
Reacting, Ogah condemned the barbaric act of human trafficking and abduction, especially in the Southeast
He vowed to bring the perpetrators to book and warned future traffickers to desist from the act or face the consequences.
While thanking the team for their timely intervention the led to the rescue of the children, the lawmaker promised to support the secondary school education of the children till they write their Senior School Certificate of Education (SSCE) exams.
He also promised to assist them in learning any skills of their choice
“I am going to make sure that the children reunite with their parents as they would write an undertaking never to allow their children live wayward lives,” Ogah added.
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