A 4-man child trafficking syndicate allegedly led by a missionary pastor were paraded before newsmen in Bayelsa state today by officials of the state's Department of State Security Service after 36 children (12 boys, 24 girls) drawn from different parts of the country were found illegally in their custody. The children are mostly from Kaduna, Kebbi and Zamfara states.
They were allegedly taken from their parents in the guise of providing them with better living conditions and education but were turned into domestic workers. They were transported to states like Rivers, Enugu, Edo and Lagos where they serve as housemaids.
The leader of the syndicate who claims to be a missionary pastor denied using the children as domestic workers. He said he collects the children from their parents and hands them over to people who have "christian hearts" and will send them to school.
The only female arrested, Tonbra Alazigha, said she ran a charity organization where she caters for the needs of the children and allegedly sends them to school. Her claim was however refuted by one of the rescued children who said she worked at a farm in Bayelsa
"She tell me say she will put me in school. She register me but I use to go farm. I use to sell water for her. The person that brought me don't know about it" she said
One of the rescued boys confirmed that they worked in farms and sold water for the lady. The 36 children are now in the custody of the Bayelsa state DSS and will be handed over to officials of NAPTIP for further investigations.