Men of the State Security Service(SSS) in Akwa Ibom State yesterday paraded 20 suspected child thieves including a Catholic priest.
Parading the suspects before newsmen in Uyo, the state deputy director of the SSS, Mr Fubara Duke said that the Catholic priest Rev. Father Okono Joseph of St Peters Parish, Owerri Catholic Diocese, Imo State was arrested for buying two small boys aged between three and four years for N450,000 each.
According to him, the man of God bought the children from an agent sponsored by one Chief Uche Joel Canice Onyekedru from Ogiri in Imo State.
Those paraded includes Mercy Okon Etim; Collins Monday Edet; Caroline Nkwonna; Cecilla Ngozi Ngene; Eleka Okoye; Nwaonu Cosmas Okoro; Adaobi Onyeke; Elizabeth Onubogu and Amaka Umeh.
Other are Ebele Nwadika Flowrence Onyodobi, Emenka Anaefuna, Nnamdi Onuchukwu, Ifeoma Gladys Nweze, Chiyneyen Roseline Idam, Vivian Ogbona and David Ogbuagu.
The assistant director disclosed that in the last eight months over 60 children has been sold off by the criminals.
He said that the leader of the syndicate, Chief Uche Joel who could not remember the number of children he has sold usually operate in conjunction with agents who similarly liaise with government officials in children homes and maternity hospitals.
‘’Investigation took our men to neighbouring states such as Abia, Imo and Ebonyi before they could arrest some of the suspects and over 20 children were rescued from the suspects.
Though some of them are still at large effort is being intensified to ensure that they are all brought to book,’’ Fubara stated .