‘The suspects claim the children were suffering from ailments’
Operatives of Lagos State Police Command have arrested four members of a syndicate that allegedly specialised in endangering the lives of child beggars to attract alms from members of the public in the state.
Sources claimed that a good Samaritan was on his way to a destination in the Kirikiri area of FESTAC, Lagos, when he saw one of the suspects using an ointment to rob the protruded stomach of a girl in the early hours of the day.
Following the discovery, the good Samaritan raised the alarm and the suspect, alongside three other accomplices, were apprehended and taken to the FESTAC Police Station for investigation.
The suspects are Uchenna Eze, 24; Onyedikachkwu Isiala, 18; Ikechukwu Kingsley, 22; and Smart Alasuomu, 20.
It was learnt that the suspects, alongside others still at large, allegedly targetted minors within the age range of 11 and 13.
During interrogation, Eze, however, said the children were suffering from ailments.
He said, “They (children) are inside their village in Abakaliki. So, when one of my aunts, Ngozi Chukwu, who is the founder of the foundation, saw other associations parading in Lagos, she knew these kinds of cases are in her village in Abakaliki and she went there and brought these ones (children).
“The girls’ parents know that they are in Lagos and used as beggars to get money so that they can be treated or operated on because they are poor. Anybody who knows Abakaliki will know what I am saying. I have a sister like them; I can never do such a thing in my life. There is no one that we give medicine to make their stomach swell. But we normally treat them.
“I have been doing this business since December 2020. The children used to see their families; one of them still went to see her parents last year, while the other girl returned this July. I can’t say the period these girls have been begging, but the money raised from the begging is usually deposited in an account controlled by Ngozi Chukwu, who is the owner of the foundation.
“When it is time for the surgery, Dr Ajayi will do it. He has operated on one patient and the boy is now in the village. She (Chukwu) will soon land anytime soon; she left Lagos last month for the village. She heard her mother fell sick and went there to stay with her.”
Police source claimed that Ajayi had been evading police invitation for questioning regarding the matter.
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer(PPRO) Benjamin Hundeyin(SP) who confirmed the arrest of the suspects, said efforts were on to bring in the doctor for questioning.
He said, “A few days that the children spent with the police, their stomachs came down. So, it was something that they (victims) were allegedly given regularly that is making their stomach protrude. So, the more the protruded stomach shines with what they use in robbing it, the more people will believe that the children have a very bad condition.
“The doctor has been avoiding police invitations. Each time the police go to the hospital, he is not always around, and when the police call his phone, he keeps saying he is busy and will come. But he has not come. This shows there is foul play. The suspects are in custody. Investigation is ongoing.”