A Reverend Father, along with other culprits, has been arrested for stealing an 18-month-old baby in Osogbo, Osun state.
The child was kidnapped from his mother and sold to an orphanage. The priest, Rev. Father Chike Ejiofor, who heads Our Lady of Fatima parish in Woliwo, Onitsha, Anambra State, is believed to have unknowingly become an accomplice after a parishioner approached him that she wanted to adopt a child and he referred her to the orphanage the baby was sold to and even helped her through the process.
Among those arrested was 28-year-old Joy Esu. According to Punch, Joy approached the mother of 18-month-old Abdullahi Azeez at her shop in Osogbo and pretended that she wanted to learn tailoring so the mother accepted. Two days later, when the mother left her alone with the baby to go to the market, Joy ran off with the child who she then gave to her boyfriend Sidney Onwuka.
Onwuka, who has sold at least 6 children stolen by Joy, then sold baby Abdullahi to one Maxwell Agu, who claimed to be running a government registered orphanage at Orlu, Imo State. Onwuka said he had sold six babies to the operator of the orphanage, including his own child, adding that the operator paid him N200,000 for his child.
Joy alleged Onwuka used charms to manipulate her into doing whatever he wants because she has never been able to refuse him when he sends her to commit a crime, even though he never pays her a kobo for it. She added that she even sold her daughter to him and he didn’t pay her for it.
Now, this is where the priest comes in. A widowed parishioner named Elizabeth, who has 5 grown daughters but wants a male child, met the priest and told him of her intention to adopt a son. The priest contacted the operator of the orphanage and baby Abdullah was brought to the parish by Mr Agu and Joy Esu. Ms Elizabeth gave the priest N750,000 which he paid to Mr Agu, the orphanage operator and they were given an adoption form to fill to make it look legitimate.
Speaking to journalists, Rev. Father Chike Ejiofor said: “I wanted to help the lady and that was what I was after because people come to me for help and I help them. I am in shock now. This is my 32 years in the ministry, but look at how I crashed.
“My hands, legs and entire body are in the trap now, how do I extricate myself? I only wanted to help the woman; I had no other intention.”
The Commissioner of Police in Osun State, Mr. Fimihan Adeoye, led other officers to parade the suspects at the police headquarters in Osogbo on Thursday. Mr Adeoye said the suspects stole the baby and drugged him so he wouldn’t cry out when he was being taken out of Osun State.