The Osun State Police Command has arrested a Reverend Father who claimed to be the parish priest at Our Lady of Fatima, Woliwo, Onitsha, Anambra State, Rev. Father Chike Ejiofor, for his alleged involvement in the stealing of an 18-month-old baby, Abdullahi Azeez, in Osogbo, the Osun State capital.
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.
One of the suspects, 28-year-old Joy Esu, said she had approached the mother of the baby at her shop and pretended that she wanted to learn tailoring and the mother accepted.
Two days after, Esu said she absconded with the baby when the mother went to the market to buy some things.
She said she gave the baby to her boyfriend, Sidney Onwuka.
Onwuka was said to have sold the baby to one Maxwell Agu, who claimed to be running a government registered orphanage at Orlu, Imo State.
Esu said she did not know if her boyfriend was using charms to manipulate her, adding that he had never given her any money despite stealing six children which he sold.
She said, “He (Sidney) always sent me to do anything and I would go without hesitation. I even sold my daughter to him, but he didn’t give me ordinary N5.”
The boyfriend, 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.
It was learnt that the priest became involved in the matter when one Elizabeth, a member of the parish, contacted him for help to adopt a male child.
The cleric, during an interview with journalists, said he contacted the operator of the orphanage because he knew that he could help the desperate woman.
He said, “This woman, Elizabeth, met me after adoration and said she wanted to adopt a male child. I contacted Maxwell (Agu) because I know that he has an orphanage. He brought a form for adoption.
“He later brought the baby to our parish together with Joy (Esu). I called Elizabeth and she said she liked the baby boy. The woman handed N750,000 to me and and I gave it to Maxwell. He said she needed to pay additional N50,000 and I then asked what the money was meant for. He said the money was for the processing of adoption papers and certificate. I called him later after the payment was made, but Maxwell said the certificate was not ready.
“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.”
Elizabeth, who adopted the baby, said she had six grown up daughters but wanted to have a male child because of the negative effect of not having a male child in Igbo culture.
She said she contacted the reverend father to help her because she did not know how to go about it.
Elizabeth, who claimed to be a widow, said she regretted seeking a male child for adoption, adding that her daughters had always assured her that they would make her proud.
The CP said the baby was sold for N800,000 and the sale of the baby was facilitated by the reverend father.
He said the suspects stole the baby and drugged him so that he would not cry out when they were taking him away from Osun State.