Narrating how it all happened, the father of the nine-month-old, Salim, Malam Muhammad Awwal Mustapha said, “We were in the mosque on Wednesday after Isha prayers when this lady in her mid-20s came and told us that she came to look for her relatives in Masaka, but got lost. She said she had tried to contact them on phone, but the numbers were not going through and she did not have enough money to go back to where she came from. She then asked if we could accommodate her for the night, so that by morning, she would decide on how to go back to where she came from.
“Being the chief imam of the mosque, we had a small meeting and decided that since we have a spare room, we could assist her as anybody could find him or herself in that situation. She stayed with us for about two days and became very free in the house. We never suspected anything. We decided in the mosque that we would raise some money for her to go back on Saturday. We never knew that she had other plans for us as she carried out her act on Friday,” he said.
Narrating further, Rahinatu, the child’s mother, said from the moment the lady in question got to their house, she showed particular interest in Salim, but that she and her husband took it as being one of those things, since most people are fond of little babies. “She always helped in feeding the baby and carried him whenever I was busy in the kitchen. Anytime she wanted to go out with him, I always refused, telling her that Salim’s father didn’t like anyone taking him out after maghrib (sunset) prayers. I noticed that she got angry anytime I refused, claiming that I always refused to let her hold the baby.
“On this particular day, she was holding the baby while he was sleeping and I asked her to give him to me, so that I could lay him down. She said I should not bother, so I went ahead to observe my prayers. When I was through, I told her that I wanted to give him his evening bath and she said she wanted to make a call outside and would not take time. When I protested, one of the women in our compound said if I was not comfortable leaving the baby with her, I should let some kids from the house go along with her to make the call, which I agreed with. While a five-year-old kid from the house went with her.
“But after sometime, the little girl came back without the lady and my baby. When I asked, she said the lady asked her to come back home and call her elder sister. When we went back to check for her, she was no where to be found and that was when I started panicking. It then dawned on me that my child had been stolen,” she said in agony.
The trend of baby theft is rising. The kidnappers have now devised other means of carrying out their acts – they first of all win the trust of their preys/victims and then unleash their venom. The Imam told Weekly Trust that he has since lodged a report on the matter with the police. He said he did so immediately the incident happened of Friday and was told that they would look into the matter and asked him to come back the following Monday.
He said he, however, had to go back on Saturday when he found a SIM card among some of the lady’s belongings. But when he got to the police station, the DCO told him that he was not aware of such a case as nobody had informed him about it and wondered why such a case was being treated with such laxity. “I was surprised when the DCO told me that our case had not been brought to his notice. He immediately started making investigations. He used the SIM card that I told him belonged to the lady to call some of the contacts on it. He called one Jennifer and told her that someone had an accident and they would love her to come and see the person.
“She responded that if it was a police case, she would not come, but if it was the hospital, she would. He then called another person who also declined coming to the station and said that he had not given anybody that number except one lady called Kehinde and that her mother sells items along Kaduna-Abuja road.”
Narrating further, Salim’s father said the police then went to Kaduna-Abuja road to get Mama Kehinde. “We went with the police to the place to get her mother, and on reaching there, we found that there were two Mama Kehinde and we became confused. However, the police had no choice but to bring both of them down to Masaka police station,” he said.
“The police were not satisfied with getting only the mothers, so they called Jennifer again, but this time, they pretended that it was one of her past boyfriends. The policeman who pretended to be her boyfriend asked, ‘Jennifer, why did you decide to abandon me like this?’ Jennifer asked who was speaking and the police officer said, ‘It’s me, Musa, your former boyfriend.’
“Continuing, the police officer said he had a business proposal for her. She said okay and told him where to meet her. When she finally came, she was surprised when she found out that it was a policeman who was waiting for her. A little drama then ensued, because when she was taken to the vehicle where the two Mama Kehindes were kept, she exclaimed, ‘Ah… Mama, and started trembling. The police then told her that she should not worry, that they just wanted some answers from her and would be happy if she cooperated,” Awwal narrated. He told Weekly Trust that it was the last he knew of the case, because they were thereafter all taken to the police station.
He said when he later contacted the police in Masaka and he was informed that the case has been transferred to the CID unit in Lafia, Nasarawa State, and that they could not comment on it as it was no longer under their jurisdiction. “It is bizarre and upsetting, especially when the latest trend is to use a woman against fellow women, forgetting the agony they are putting mothers through,” Awwal lamented.
“All I ask is that my child should be brought back to me as I dream about him a lot. I hear his cries at night and I also hear strange noises in the night,” said Rahinatu, while trying to remain strong and brave.