THE National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has waded into the report exposing a child-trafficking racket involving an officer of the Nigerian Air Force, Joy Kelvin, and her accomplices.
The ICIR had reported on January 7 how the officer, currently working at the Air Force Comprehensive School, Ojiagu, Agbani, Nkanu West Local Government Area of Enugu State, trafficked children.
On December 30, The ICIR wrote a letter to NAPTIP through its Director of Research Godwin Morka, informing the agency of the newspaper’s findings on the syndicate’s activities.
The agency failed to respond to the letter until days after the newspaper published a report on the scandal.
Speaking with our reporter on the scandal on Friday, Director of Investigation and Monitoring in the agency, Daniel Atokolo, said the Yuletide holiday was responsible for the delay in the agency’s response.
He said NAPTIP was a responsible organisation that would not delay in working with people who would help its work.
He said the agency would take over the case from the Nigerian Police and the Nigerian Air Force that had apprehended the key suspects in the scandal.
Summary of our earlier report on the scandal
A university dropout Nnam Joy (Ginika) was pregnant in Enugu State and the Air Force officer helped her arrange a buyer for her unborn baby in Gombe State.
The officer arranged for Joy to live with another member of her syndicate in Abuja until the pregnancy would be over eight months, when she would travel to Gombe to give birth and hand the baby over to the buyer.
Findings by The ICIR revealed that Joy’s host in Abuja had sold at least one of her children in the past two years.
She used part of the proceeds to buy the house she is living in. The Air Force officer sold the house to her.
Joy could not travel to Gombe as planned to give birth. She gave birth on December 27 in Abuja, much earlier than January 24 she claimed her Expected Date of Delivery (EDD) predicted.
Her host had travelled to Kaduna before she delivered, leaving her alone in the house and neighbours to rummage their shelves for what they could use for her newborn baby.
However, there was already a discord within the network after Joy did her last scan.
The buyer wanted a boy child, Joy’s pregnancy showed a baby girl.
It appeared the mother disagreed with the price offered for the girl-child and she decided not to sell the baby.
The officer and her host sent Joy packing out of the Abuja home after failing to refund N67,000 allegedly spent on her by the officer.
On her part, the young mother refused to tell her parents and siblings that she was pregnant. She had told them a lie that she got a job as a fuel attendant in Abuja.
After her ejection from her host’s home, Joy got accommodation at a village in the nation’s capital.
Meanwhile the officer was still demanding a refund of what she allegedly spent on her. Following the young mother’s failure to pay, the officer arrested her mother at Amagunze, Nkanu East Local Government Area of Enugu State, on January 6.
The perplexed mother and her husband ordered their daughter back home immediately with her baby.
In an attempt to prevent Joy from escaping and help security agencies to apprehend the known members of the network, this newspaper contacted the Enugu State and FCT Police commands the same day.
The FCT Police apprehended the young mother and the host, identified as Godiya, the same day.
Similarly, through John Ukeh, an Air Commodore, the Air Force said they arrested the officer on January 13.
Fresh findings on our earlier report
Further findings by The ICIR have shown that the Air Force officer and Godiya (Joy’s host) are not related as the officer claimed. Godiya is from Kaduna State while the officer is from Plateau State.
They worked together at the Air Force Girls Comprehensive Secondary School, located at the Air Force Base, Airport, Abuja, as cooks until the officer got deployment to Enugu about three years ago. Godiya worked at the school until her arrest.
According to the officer, she met Godiah at the Abacha Military Barrack in Abuja years back, where she (Godiya) sold local drinks.
She then helped her to the Air Force Secondary School, where they worked together.
Among many revelations through our reporter’s undercover work, the officer told this newspaper that an Air Force officer in Abuja had just paid N1 million for a boy child at the Social Welfare Department in Gombe State. The department handles child-trafficking with incontestable documents, she alleged.
She boasted of her prowess in buying children fast from the state for willing buyers.
She would travel from Enugu to Gombe to pick children and deliver them to their buyers; she told our reporter.
According to her, Gombe State is the most accessible place for child trafficking in Nigeria.
In one of her conversations with our reporter, she said she got to know about the business sometime in 2014 when the Air Force posted her to Gombe State on an assignment.
She has since engaged in the illicit business, she said, bragging of her affluence and luxury homes.
She also told our reporter that Joy had two siblings in the Nigerian military. One is with the Army and the other with the Air Force, she claimed. The young mother also confirmed the claim.
This newspaper gathered from an impeccable source in Nkanu West, Enugu State, that the officer (in the scandal) threatens villagers and engages in land-grabbing in a community in the area council. The matter is currently in court, said the source.
Gombe State government denies involvement in child trafficking
Meanwhile, Director of the Gombe State Social Welfare Department, Asabe Malami, denied her agency’s involvement in child trafficking when contacted by our reporter.
Similarly, the State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Naomi Joel Awak, described the allegations against the department as ‘false and fake.’
The spokesperson of the Nigerian Air Force, Commodore Edward Gabkwet, promised that it would conduct thorough investigations into the matter.