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Military rescues 5 stolen children, arrests 17-year-old ‘trafficker’ 

Soldiers of Operation Whirl Strike (OPWS) have rescued five children reportedly stolen at Shendam in Plateau State, while they were being trafficked to Abuja from…

Soldiers of Operation Whirl Strike (OPWS) have rescued five children reportedly stolen at Shendam in Plateau State, while they were being trafficked to Abuja from a motor park in Lafia town, Nasarawa State.

The soldiers also apprehended a teenage trafficker in custody of the children who are all below five years.

Force Commander of OPWS, Major General Sunday Igbinomwanhia, who paraded the suspect on Wednesday alongside the rescued children at the OPWS headquarters at the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Tactical Command headuaters in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, disclosed that the main culprit escaped during the raid.

He said that the 17-year-old suspect, one Samuel, an indigene of Akwa Ibom state, who arranged the children for a woman, Tina Nkechi, who lives in Abuja was about to transport them when the soldiers clamped down on him.

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Igbinomwanhia said the OPWS which covers Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba states under his watch would leave no stone unturned in its operations to rid the states of criminal activities.

“On November 20, 2023 at about 8:20pm, Sector 3 of OPWS acting on intelligence following the activities of human traffickers arrested Samuel, 17 years, a suspected human trafficker with five underaged children – two boys and three girls – at Transit Park in Lafia town, Lafia LGA of Nasarawa State.

“The ring leader of the syndicate on sighting troops abandoned the children with Samuel. The names of the children are Nasiru, Apinan, Khariat, Izan and Adinan. They are within the ages of two and five years.

“Items recovered in the suspect possession included a techno phone. During preliminary investigation, the suspect claimed he was working for one Mrs Tina Nkechi, who is based in Abuja. The suspect also claimed that the children were stolen form their parents at Angwan-Kabir village in Shendam LGA of Plateau State and were to be moved to Abuja under the care of Mrs Tina Nkechi,” he said.

The Force commander however officially handed over the children to the Makurdi Zonal Command of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) for further identification of their parents.

NAPTIP’s Head of Operations, Felix Akperaga, who recieved the children on behalf of the command, said that further investigation into the matter would be instituted while efforts would be made to find the parents of the kids so they could be reunited back to their families.

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