Woman, police bicker over child’s trafficking
Mrs. Mercy Adetokunbo Oluwaseyifunmi, residing at Ondo State, is at her wits’ end and almost broke down in tears as she narrated her ordeal to The Guardian. The mother of three has been languishing in police custody for two weeks for allegedly stealing her daughter and trafficking her to the United Kingdom.
But the woman has denied the allegation, saying neither she nor her daughter had international passport. She said her daughter was in a Nigerian school. Mercy said she was arrested in Ondo State, where she resides with her husband, Nicholas, and three children. She was arrested by policemen attached to Force Criminal Investigations Department (FCID), Alagbon Close, Ikoyi, Lagos.
She was later ordered by an Igbosere Magistrates’ Court to be remanded in police custody for 20 days. According to her, she has been harassed, intimidated and extorted by policemen in Ondo State and FCID, for about a year.
When asked her crime, Mercy said: “Police said I am bearing the same name with my former boyfriend’s estranged wife living in the UK. Adetokunbo is the pet name my parents call me. I don’t understand how bearing the same name with another person can constitute a crime. This case had been on for long; I even had to sue the police for harassment. I was asked to go. The policemen later came back to arrest me, claiming I jumped bail.”
Mercy said she met Bankole Oni Ogunowo some years back and they started dating. She got pregnant and had a baby girl, Damilola. Later, Bankole left for UK. He and Mercy lost contact.
“When I did not hear from him after four years, I decided to move on with my life. I went to tell Bankole’s mother. She told me that Bankole had married someone else in the UK. I got married to Nicholas. Some years later, Bankole called me; he said he wanted to have access to his child.”
Mercy, who had two children for her present husband, said one day, Bankole called her, saying he wouldn’t mind Damilola coming over to UK to join him. “He said I should go to a court and swear an affidavit, showing that I am Damilola’s mother and that I didn’t carry out Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) on her. He asked for the documents, I sent them. Later, police came to arrest me. They said I lied in the affidavit I sworn. They said one Oyebo sworn a counter affidavit, denouncing mine. That was how my troubles started.”
Reacting, the Deputy Commissioner of Police at Alagbon DCP Abutu Yaro, said: “We went to Ondo State to arrest the suspect for stealing and trafficking a child to the United Kingdom. She did it with a man in the UK, who had been charged to court over there. They trafficked a child from here under a false name. There is another woman in UK, who was married to the man. The man is the husband of the two women.
“The suspect here assumed the name of the other woman in UK, so she and the man could be able to move the child from here to UK. The woman in UK informed the London Police that a child had been smuggled from Nigeria into London, with her name, whereas she is not the mother of the child. The British Police requested for a judicial process.
“We invited the suspect for questioning, to explain the process that took place before the child left. She confirmed that they made such arrangement to facilitate the exit of the child, which has now become a criminal situation there. We had to report her actions to the court. The court accepted our charge, that criminal conspiracy, forgery had been discharged. This is why she would be undergoing trial. Once we take someone to court, and there is a remand order established, the case is no longer in police hand or power. What she needs now is court bail, not police bail.”