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How Sokoto caregiver turned human trafficking merchant

Malam Bala Abubakar, a resident of the Tudun Wada area, Sokoto South LGA of Sokoto State, was known as a source of succour and caregiver…

Malam Bala Abubakar, a resident of the Tudun Wada area, Sokoto South LGA of Sokoto State, was known as a source of succour and caregiver for orphans in the area and the neighbourhoods until on Thursday, April 30, 2024, when he was paraded along with nine other suspects in connection with the abduction of children and human trafficking.

Abubakar was said to have been running an organisation that seeks support for orphans and because of that many widows went to him for support for their orphaned children.

A resident of Tudun Wada, who sought anonymity, said they were shocked to hear about his involvement in the abduction and trafficking of children.

“I know Bala has an organisation that caters for orphans. He used to look for support for them from politicians and other wealthy individuals. And many widows go to him for support for their children.

“Nobody knew he was into this unfortunate business (trafficking) until he was paraded by the police along with other suspects.

“Our prayer is that the police would investigate further in order to rescue all the victims,” the resident said

According to the Sokoto State Police Command, Abubakar had sold 28 children including six of his biological sons to one Elizabeth Oja and Kulu Dogonyaro, all residents of Abuja at a cost ranging from N150,000 to N250,000.

Nemesis, however, caught up with them when on April 27, 2024, at about 2000hrs, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Command arrested Mrs Dogonyaro and Ojah travelling with five children, including under-fives and a 2-week-old baby, when other passengers noticed an unusual feeding method as instead of breastfeeding, the infant was given powdered milk.

On reaching Abuja, the driver of the commercial vehicle, drove straight to the nearest police station to report the suspicious duo.

While at the station, the suspects claimed that the children were willingly given to them by their parents in Sokoto to enable them to hand them over to a non-governmental organisation for their upkeep and schooling in Abuja.

Further police investigation revealed that Mrs. Dogonyaro at one time lived in Sokoto for over 20 years as confirmed by the mothers of the five children rescued.

According to the police, the mothers were all widows who were deceived to part with their children under the pretence that they would be handed over to an Abuja-based NGO which would shoulder their responsibilities, welfare and upbringing while other children victims were abducted on their way to Islamic school.

The police added that, during investigation, 15 more children were rescued from other states, two more suspects were arrested all of who claimed to have gotten the children through Mrs. Dogonyaro.

Meanwhile, a total number of 20 rescued children were handed over to the Sokoto State orphanage home for proper care, while 10 suspects have been arrested.

I don’t sell children –Abubakar

However, Abubakar in an interview with newsmen denied the allegation against him, saying the children were not abducted or trafficked but rather willingly submitted by their mothers who wanted them to get a better life.

“I am not a trafficker neither a kidnapper. I know Mrs Dogonyaro through a friend who happened to be the personal assistant to the former commissioner of Social Welfare.

“One day, a woman who was mentally unstable abandoned her two children in our area. We took them to our village head who invited the director, Social Welfare, who came along with the woman and collected the children.

“And that was how I met Isa who kept coming to me and telling me to hand these kinds of children to Kulu Dogonyaro; that she had a place where they were taking good care of children.

“Since then, I have been taking orphans brought to me by their mothers to her for proper care. But I am not collecting anything from her,” he said.

Abubakar, however, admitted handing over his six biological children to the woman but insisted that, he did not collect a penny from her.

I didn’t know the children were abducted – Elizabeth

On her part, Mrs Elizabeth said she was not aware that the children were victims of abduction.

“I know Kulu Dogonyaro in Sokoto. We lived in the same barracks for over 20 years.

“I came back to Sokoto, looking for a job and she came to my place and asked me to help her take the five children to Abuja because Bala brought a large number of children to her. And I can’t say no to her because we have been friends for 21 years.

“She told me that the children were orphans and would be taken to an organization in Abuja for proper upkeep,” she said

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