The Edo State Taskforce 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.
Briefing journalists in Benin City, the Head of the Investigation Unit of the Edo State Taskforce Against Human Trafficking, Abigail Ihonre, said the baby was sold for N1.7 million, noting that the investigation was ongoing to rescue the baby and apprehend the buyer of the one-month-old child.
According to Ihonre, “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 at the latest on Monday, June 26th, 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 could 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 them but to bring them to the office of the 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.”
The baby’s mother, Joy Umukoro, said they sold the one-month-old baby to a willing buyer in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, for N700,000, noting that N500,000 was paid in cash; N170,000 was given to the agent that took her to the buyer, while others were used for drugs.
According to her, “After giving birth to the baby, life became very difficult, and I approached my friend to help me find a buyer, and she gave me the link. I travelled to Port Harcourt with another woman and sold the baby for seven hundred thousand naira. The drug I take is 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 could not take care of the baby. She told me that her friend Precious James found a buyer, and she travelled to Rivers State to sell the baby, and when she returned, she gave me N100,000.”
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Also, Precious James, who facilitated the illegal deal, said they are all drug addicts and couldn’t take care of the baby, adding, “My friend told me she sold the baby for seven hundred thousand naira, and when she came back, she bought drugs for me from the money.”