A 71- year old pastor who has been retired from a Pentecostal church in Abriba, Ohafia Local Government Area of Abia State, Rev. Chima Egbochiogum, and his wife, Ugo, have been arrested for alleged illegal adoption of a baby.
While parading the couple alongside other suspects in connection with the crime, Commissioner of Police in the state, Joshak Habila said that the couple bought a stolen baby and that the pastor and his wife were nabbed following a confession by a notorious child trafficker who was arrested last month for human trafficking.
According to him, the child trafficker, identified simply as Ekwutosi, stole an 11-month-old baby girl belonging to a 21- year -old mother, who he had pretended to assist.
He said Ekwutosi had approached the young woman, who had a baby out of wedlock, with promise that he would secure a job for her.
The excited woman was said to have left her baby in the custody of Ekwotosi when she went to buy food for her.
“But by the time the mother returned, Ekwutosi had disappeared with the baby,” the police commissioner said.
According to Habila, the suspect was later intercepted by the police at Owerrinta when he was allegedly trafficking pregnant girls to Port Harcourt.
He said the suspect, during interrogations, confessed to his criminal activities including the stealing of the 11- month old baby. His confession led to the arrest of the pastor who allegedly adopted the stolen baby.
Habila said the suspect sold the baby at the cost of N500, 000 to the wife of the pastor.
But later in an interview with journalists, the pastor said he was not aware that the baby adopted by his wife was a stolen child.
The retired cleric had married his second wife following the death of his first wife, who had born children to him.He said he was innocent of the crime as he thought the adoption followed due process.
Meanwhile, his second wife, who had yet to have a baby of her own, decided to adopt a baby.
According to the woman, she was contacted by one Maria Mba, who told her that one of her relations, a teenager, wanted to give out a baby she had out of wedlock.
She said that the baby was paid for at the premises of the Federal Medical Centre Umuahia where it was allegedly delivered to her. She also claimed that she did not know that the baby was stolen.
Meanwhile, there was a mild drama when the notorious trafficker, Ekwutosi said he did not receive up to N500,000 in the transaction claiming that the intermediary, Mba short-changed him.
But Mba said she only kept back N100,000 as her commission , insisting that she gave N400,000 to Ekwutosi.