It was a day of reckoning for Ifeoma Ebonyi 32, and a mother of two and Ngunan Agber 34, a mother of five who were arrested for stealing a nine months-old baby boy, Tordue Ajia, at Ubangaji Market in Gboko local government area of Benue State.
The two women who were paraded at the Force Headquarters alongside an 11year old Mlumun Agber, daughter of one of the suspects, Ngunan Agber, who was said to have masterminded the stealing of the baby and handing him over to Ifeoma.
Ngunan who connived with Ifeoma and schooled her daughter Mlumun on how she will steal and elope with baby said she is a hustler in one hotel in onitsha.
“I am a hustler in a hotel in Onitsha and that was where I met Ifeoma and as we were discussing, one day, she told me she needed a baby to sell because there is someone ready to buy and if I know where I can get one. That was how we planned and she gave me N2,500 as transport to come home and be searching around so that as soon as she arrived, we will strike the deal and elope with baby to Onitsha.
“I came home on Sunday. After two days, Ifeoma called me that she was already in Gboko and I directed her to my house and that was when we sat and concluded the plan on how we are going to get the baby.
“Ifeoma then asked me to include my 11 year old girl Mlumun, which according to her, will make it easier to get a baby. The first time I told her no, but she offered to give me N20,000 and owing to the present economic situation, I agreed and we quickly went to Ubanganji Market. On reaching there, we saw these film traders in a vehicle playing music and videos to advertise their products to attract customers and we saw a girl of about seven to eightyears who was watching the advertisers, holding a baby boy, then Ifeoma brought out N100 and gave to my daughter to go and pretend as being caring and friendly thereafter, send her to buy sweets in a shop within the market with the N100 for them to eat and if she obliged , she should offer to help her carry the baby so that she will run fast.
“At that point, I became afraid and left them in the market with a promise to meet them at a particular shop located at Gyula after Peace House in Gboko.”
Our correspondent observed that the two women were not agreeing with each other on who conceived the kidnapping, as they were rather pointing accusing fingers at each other.
Ifeoma Ebonyi on the other hand said she was lured into the ceime by Ngunan Agber whom she met in Onitsha while hustling in a hotel.
“I did not know kidnapping business before, and have not kidnapped any child before. I’m a widow with two children, and I have been hustling in a hotel to take care of myself and feed my children. When I met Ngunan in that hotel few months ago, we were discussing and she told me that a particular nurse is looking for babies to buy and that was how we discussed and finally arrived that Ngunan should go to her community to look for a child because she told me there are many children in her community that are abandoned by their parents.
“Ngunan was the person who introduced the nurse to me on phone. She even has the nurse’ number and she has been discussing with her. She just invited me to join the business so that after we kidnapped the baby, we will elope with the baby to Onitsha and sell to the nurse and I will be given my share which she was yet to tell me.
“On reaching Gboko, Ngunan then introduced me to her 11-year-old daughter whom she said will aid in the kidnapping business, so the following day we set out to Ubangaji Market and we saw a little girl backing her little brother watching those film sellers as they were playing music and videos. I gave Mlumun N100 to go and pretend being good to the girl for a few minutes and then send her to buy sweets so that they can share while I was waiting behind, she went and did exactly as we instructed her. While the little girl agreed to go and buy sweets, she now offered to help her hold the baby and immediately she ran to me and I collected the baby and we eloped with him to a place where Mlumun’s mother asked us to wait.
“I became scared because the baby was crying uncontrollably, so we went to a close-by shop to buy water to give the baby to drink, but he refused to drink the water that was where the shop owner became interested and asked me to breastfeed the baby and I removed my breast but the baby rejected and was crying aloud. Are you the mother of this baby? The shop owner asked me and I told him no the mother will soon come and within a short while my friend came, and wanted to hold the baby and the baby did not agree and she wanted to breastfeed him but to no avail, the baby was still crying and the shop owner now called my friend’s daughter and threatened to take her to the police if she did not tell him the true mother of the baby and that was where she opened up that she was sent to steal the baby in Ubangaji Market, and the man immediately invited vigilante group in the area and we were arrested and handed over to the police.”
The 1-year-old Mlumun, who confirmed that she actually stole the baby and handed him over to Ifeoma, also disclosed that she is a primary three pupil of Asaramia Primary School Gboko South and her mother was the person that introduced her to Ifeoma.
“l did not know Auntie Ifeoma before, my mother was the one who introduced her to me as her friend when she came to our house, my mother told me to follow her to Ubangaji Market and be helping her to check round the market for a baby and any one we see alone, I should quickly carry the baby and hand over to my auntie so that she will run with the baby, she told me that my auntie promised to give me N20,000 if I succeed. “So we went to the market three of us, but my mother was coming behind us, I was in front with my auntie, suddenly we saw a small girl who was holding a baby, she stood where one motor was advertising films and at the same time playing music and showing videos on a television in the bus. My auntie quickly called me and pointed at the girl, but at this moment my mother withdrew and showed us a place in Gyula after Peace House in Gboko to wait for her if we succeed.
“Auntie Ifeoma at that moment, gave me N100 and asked me to go and pretend to be friendly with that girl and start playing with her for a few minutes then send her to by sweets in any nearby shop within the market and if she agrees to go, I should quickly offer to help her hold the baby, and that was exactly what I did.
“As soon as the girl gave me the baby and left, I quickly ran and handed him over to my auntie who was close by watching everything I was doing and we disappeared in that market immediately to the place where we were to wait for my mother.
“The baby was crying non-stop, he was even rejecting Auntie Ifeoma. Where we were waiting for my mother, there was a shop there, so my auntie now asked the shop owner to give her N10 pure water to give to the baby, but the baby refused taking the water and was crying aloud, so the shop owner came out and asked my auntie why is the baby crying and she is not breastfeeding him, my auntie told the shop owner that the mother was coming behind and that was my mother, when my mother finally came, and offered to collect the baby, the baby rejected her, she collected the baby by force and tried to give him breast but he still refused. That was when the shop owner now came again and asked for the mother of the baby and held me by the hand that if I don’t tell him the truth he will call police, and I became afraid and told him all that had happened and he called vigilante group to arrest us.”
Narrating her ordeal, Mrs Kwaghbee Ajia, 30, a petty trader in Ubangaji Market, mother of three and the nine months-old kidnapped baby boy, revealed that, she trades in garden eggs and okra. She said on that fateful day around 1pm, her first daughter Ngusurun Ajia, 7, a pupil of Stepping Stone Nursery and Primary School Ubangaji, Gboko South, came back from school and as usual when she is back from school, she helps me in baby-sitting so that I will concentrate more on my market.
“My seven-year-old daughter, Ngusurun Ajia, was baby-sitting for me, when she came back from school, and there was this film sellers playing music and showing films to attract buyers just slightly after where I was selling, and she backed her brother and went to watch the film sellers as they were dancing and showing videos within 20 minutes she ran back and was crying, one girl collected Tordue and sent me to buy sweets and I came back and could not see her again.
“Immediately, I stopped selling, we went round the market but could not see the girl. I quickly called my husband who was not around and told him about the development and he advised me to quickly report to all the police stations and all the motor parks and okada offices in Gboko so that they will be monitoring, and I did so.
“This happened around 1:30pm on the 22nd of June which was on Thursday, around 4pm the vigilante in the area came looking for me in the market alongside the police and there, they collected my number and called me to come to Central Police Station, Gboko, on reaching there I saw my son Tordue Ajia, he cried and was even weak. They asked me to collect him and breastfeed him, and I did, in fact immediately he saw me he was struggling to meet me, they then asked me whether the women that stole him were my relations or whether I have known them before, and told them I was seeing them for the first time.
“When I saw my son I was full of praises and happiness to God, I did not believe that I will see my son again because I did not know where to start. I was blaming myself, but I consoled myself at the same time because she has been helping me to baby-sit every day she closes from school. The police now handed my son over to me. For me what I can say is to thank God for his mercies. Secondly, I want to commend the shop owner for being vigilant, my appreciation also goes to the vigilante groups of Gyula and Gboko as well as the Nigeria Police, I thank them so much for their efforts which made me to reunite with my son. If not by the help of the shop owner I wouldn’t have gotten my son back,” she noted.