By Gloria Afajagbe
The Edo State Task Force Against Human Trafficking has apprehended a 48-year-old man, Anthony Igbinogun, and his girlfriend, Joy Umukoro 28, for allegedly selling their one-month-old baby to fund their drug addiction.
The suspects were arrested with their friend, 26-year-old Precious James, who facilitated the illegal transaction and linked them to the baby’s buyer in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Addressing journalists, the Head of Investigation Unit of the Taskforce, Abigail Ihonre said the baby was sold for N1.7 million, noting that investigation is ongoing to rescue the baby and apprehend the buyer.
“Our investigations revealed that Joy Umukoro, the mother of the baby, delivered the baby in April 2023, and conspired with her boyfriend to sell their baby for N1.7 million. She has confessed to the crime of selling the baby.
“Investigation into the case continues as we intensify efforts to locate the buyers and the baby as the matter will be charged to Court latest on Monday 26th, June 2023, so that everyone culpable is made to face the wrath of the law for their criminal activities.
“The suspects said they carried out the dastardly act because they couldn’t take care of the baby. These people are alleged drug addicts and when it was clear that they couldn’t take care of the baby, they decided to sell him. But that wasn’t the best option for them as the decision may destroy their lives.
“The penalty for trafficking is about seven years in prison. I urge those that can’t take care of their babies not to sell but bring such to the office of Edo State Taskforce Against Human Trafficking as we collaborate with the Ministry of Gender and Women Affairs or take the baby to other agencies that take care of children. Selling that child is not a good option as the outcome may end you in prison,” Ihonre noted.
Confessing to the crime, one of the suspects, Joy Umukoro said they agreed to sell her baby to a willing buyer for N700,000, adding that, N500,000 was paid cash, while N170,000 was given to the agent that took her to the buyer, and others were used for drugs.
“After giving birth to the baby, life became very difficult and I approached my friend to help me with a buyer and she gave me the link. I traveled to Port Harcourt with another woman and sold the baby for seven hundred thousand naira. The drugs I take are the cause. I also sent some money to my other two children for upkeep and some others for my father’s burial.”
On his part, Igbinogun, the baby’s father, said: “We stayed together and gave birth to the baby and the mother said she can’t take care of the baby. She told me that her friend Precious James has found a buyer and she traveled to Rivers State to sell the baby and when she returned she gave me N100,000.”
Also, Precious James, who facilitated the illegal deal, said they are addicted to drugs and could not take care of the baby.
“My friend told me she sold the baby for seven hundred thousand naira and when she came back bought drugs for me from the money,” she said.