The Nigeria Police said it had arrested an alleged notorious human trafficker, who was said to be operating from the Mbaise area of Imo State.
The Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, who was in the state for a visit, paraded the suspect identified as Ndubueze Iroakonaulo, 57, alongside other suspected criminals in Owerri.
Speaking with journalists, Mba said the suspect would be charged to court after investigation.
Mba, a Deputy Commissioner of Police, said Iroakonaulo was arrested on July 4, 2019, following a tip-off.
According to him, the arrest of the suspect was part of the success of the Operation Puff Adder, which was launched nationwide in April by the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu.
Mba said, “On July 4, following a tip-off, personnel of the command arrested Ndubueze Iroakonaulo and rescued four pregnant women at various stages of pregnancy and two children.
“The suspect, who is a specialist in keeping pregnant women, sees them through child birth and subsequently sells the babies, has made useful statements to the police, confessing to the crime and his mode of operation.”
In another development, the police say they had arrested five kidnap suspects and rescued seven victims from their den in the state.
Those arrested were identified as Peter Onuoha, 43; Justice Eke, 23; Praise Goodluck, 29, from Obubo Awarra; Goodluck Felix, 38, from Ohaji/Egbema in Imo State; and Stephen Amadi from Omademe in the Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The rescued victims were identified simply as Nnaka, Chukwuma, Nwangwu, Ephraim, Emmanuel and David.
Briefing journalists, Mba stated that some personnel of the command arrested the kidnap suspects following a tip-off.
He said, “Following a tip-off received on July 4, 2019, that a gang of kidnappers were holding some victims hostage in a forest in Ohaji, personnel of the command swiftly swung into action and stormed the kidnappers’ hideout.
“On sighting the command’s personnel, the suspects engaged them in a heated gun duel during which three of them fell to the superior firepower of the policemen and two others escaped with serious gunshot injuries.”
The Force PRO, added that the victims, including a pregnant woman, were rescued unhurt in spite of being in the kidnappers’ hideout when the gun duel ensued.
He stated, “The rescued victims were subsequently taken to the police hospital for treatment and the doctor on duty certified them okay and the pregnancy of the women was still intact.
“Exhibit recovered from the suspects, who confessed to the crime, are two single-barrelled long guns, one double-barrelled guns, two live cartridges, 27 expended cartridges, one machete, one iron saw, one police beret, two sets of police uniform, a pair of police boots, police belt and police handcuff.”
Fielding questions from our correspondent, one of the rescued victims, Nwangwu, said that she and others were in a Sienna bus travelling from Bayelsa to Enugu State when they were stopped around 4pm by a group of young men, dressed in police uniform.
“They pointed guns at us and ordered us out into their own bus. We all moved into their bus and they drove off and where we found ourselves was in their den.
“They kept us there for two days without food. We were only given water. One of us was negotiating for ransom when the miracle happened.
“It did not take quite long after the phone call that policemen stormed the hideout and rescued us. We heard the gunshots, but none of the bullets touched any of us.”