Investigation: Air Force officer in baby trafficking scandal

Nnam Joy (Ginika) has failed in her bid to sell her newborn child. 

She was lured into the baby-selling business by a Nigerian Air Force officer who leads a ring that has successfully trafficked many children.

The officer, Joy Kelvin, currently serves in Enugu State after her re-deployment from Abuja by the Nigerian Air Force.

Kelvin, a mother of five from Kaduna State, had lived at the Air Force Base in the nation’s capital before her transfer.

She alleged that the Social Welfare Department in Gombe State is the hub and most accessible place to buy children in Nigeria.

The officer, Joy Kelvin

Kelvin has helped many people to buy children at the department; she told The ICIR.

She said the department does not take prospective buyers through questionings and other rigours of child buying and adoption.

 

How the Air Force officer lured Joy into child selling

Joy is a university dropout. She attended the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, and studied Mass Communication.  After leaving the school over claims her family could not afford her tuition fees, she returned to her parents in Amagunze, Nkanu Local Government Area of Enugu State.

The young mother said she had lived with a family in Anambra State as a salesgirl before the period. She worked with the family while she attended university.

She told our reporter that she had two boyfriends at Amagunze. Both slept with her, and neither took responsibility for the pregnancy. 


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In her attempt to abort the pregnancy, someone introduced her to the Air Force officer. The officer already had a waiting buyer for a child in Gombe.

The officer advised Joy to tell her parents she got a job in Abuja as a fuel attendant. The pregnancy was four months old then, and her parents did not know about it. The lady has eight siblings. None of them was aware of the pregnancy and her plan to leave Enugu for Abuja. 

Nnam Joy
Nnam Joy

Joy came to Abuja in October 2021 and lived at the Nuwalege Village, behind the Air Force Base where the officer had lived while serving in Abuja. 

She lived with the officer’s sister, whom neighbours claimed had sold her baby in 2020 and used the proceeds as part of the money to buy the house where she lives. The Air Force officer sold the house to her.

The host, identified as Godiya, works as a cook at the Air Force Comprehensive Girls Secondary School at the Air Force Base.

Joy was supposed to travel to Gombe in early January to put to bed, to enable the waiting buyer in the state to collect her baby. As her pregnancy scan shows, her Expected Date of Delivery (EDD) is January 24. But she gave birth on December 27. 

Before her delivery, her host had travelled to Kaduna for Yuletide, leaving her alone in the house. Helpless, Joy depended on neighbours to garner items to care for her newborn. The Air Force officer paid for her delivery. She sent the money to the clinic where the lady gave birth as an emergency patient.

Joy’s family was unaware of the pregnancy and birth as of January 5.

Beginning of discord in the network

The buyer in Gombe wanted a baby boy, but the lady gave birth to a girl. According to the mother, the buyer was no longer interested in the child. Had the child been a boy, she would have taken him to meet the buyer in Gombe, from Abuja.

But subsequent findings showed that Joy disagreed with the price tag on the girl child.

The Air Force officer said the state Social Welfare would handle the transaction.

Nnam Joy
Nnam Joy

She said if the department handled the sale, the mother would sign an undertaking never to make any case to get her child back.

According to her, direct transaction from a mother to a buyer could attract crisis because mothers might change their minds later.

Since the transaction is no longer taking place, the officer in Enugu is demanding for all she has spent on the young mother. She told our reporter she had spent N67,000. 

Joy ejected from her host’ house

Since the parties could no longer agree, the officer called Joy to leave the house a week after she gave birth.

She told her that her sister must not return from Kaduna and meet her in the house.

The sister also called Joy to quit immediately.

Left with no option, the mother sought help from some people to relocate.

By then, she had not informed her relations of her predicaments. She told this reporter that she refused to notify her parents of her status because they would curse her.

From Nuwulege, Joy moved to Wukara, another village around the Abuja Airport. 

The ICIR reporter’s undercover with the Air Force officer

When the efforts to sell Joy’s baby failed, the officer began to demand a refund of all she had spent.

Godiya

The ICIR reporter told Joy’s host on phone she had an interest in buying the baby but she dropped the call.

The reporter then called the officer in Enugu. The officer was happy and advised the reporter not to buy Joy’s child. She guided the reporter to get any child he wanted in Gombe. She said she had bought children from the state for people and had helped some who paid for theirs to bring them to where they lived. She said babies available in Gombe range from a day old to any age. 

She advised that Joy might make trouble after selling her child and that the reporter should go to Gombe to collect children picked up by the Social Welfare Department or those sold to them. 

She said going to other states to buy children would make buyers wait long and cost them money.

She sent her account details to the reporter for a processing fee of N20,000. She promised to travel to Gombe and bring the child to the reporter in Abuja if the reporter would not like to face travel stress.

Nnam Joy
Joy before she became pregant

A male child is sold for an amount ranging between N800,000 and one million naira, and a female child could sell for between N500,000 and N800,000, she said. Some desperate mothers could give their children out for about N300,000, she stated.

According to her, a mother could sell her baby to the Social Welfare Department for N500,000. The department would add N200,000 as its gain plus another charge for processing the child. But abandoned children picked on the streets are cheaper, she stated.

She boasted that she was wealthy and lived in a luxury home. She also said her husband lived abroad and was a businessman.

NAPTIP fails to respond to The ICIR’s letter on the incident

To help the law enforcement officers to apprehend members of the ring, The ICIR wrote a letter to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) on December 30. 

The Director of Research in the organisation, Godwin Morka, received the letter. He advised that the newspaper send the letter to the organisation’s Director-General. This newspaper sent the letter to him the same day.

NAPTIP has not responded to the letter as of the time The ICIR published this report.

Officer arrests Joy’s mum in Enugu

In a sheer show of force, the Air Force officer arrested Joy’s mother in Amagunze on Thursday, January 6, to compel her to pay the money she allegedly spent on her daughter in Abuja.

She allegedly said the lady had run away from home after getting pregnant, and she helped to pay for her delivery, which she claimed she refused to pay back.

ICIR informs the Police, suspects in Abuja arrested

Following NAPTIP’s failure to respond to The ICIR’s request, this newspaper notified the FCT and Enugu State Police Commands of the incident on Thursday, January 6. The same day, the FCT Command apprehended Joy and her host in Nuwalege and Wukara and took them into custody.

The Police have since moved the suspects to the Command Headquarters in Abuja.

Meanwhile, when contacted, the Director of the Gombe State Social Welfare Department  Asabe Malami denied her agency’s involvement in child trafficking.
She said her department was not into baby-selling or adoption, but accepts children “who are in conflict with the law from the courts.”
She said: “I’m just hearing for the first time, because to me, in my own department, what we do is to keep children that have conflicts with the law, that is in a remand home.
“These children are brought from the court. If there is anybody that sells children, it should be judges that sell the children. I have never heard of any judge selling children. I’ve never heard of any court selling children.
“I’ve never heard of any magistrate selling children in Gombe. It has never happened.”
She said the Director, Child Welfare and Social Development, should speak on the matter.

According to her, the agency is in charge of child adoption in the state.
The ICIR could not contact the department, as pleas with Mrs Malami to release the contact of the head of the department fell on deaf ears.
The reporter told  Mrs. Malami that the Air Force officer did not accuse the Child Welfare and Social Development, but the Social Welfare Department, headed by the official.
Similarly, the State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development Naomi Joel Awak described the allegations against the department as “false and fake.”

When The ICIR contacted the Nigeria Air Force,  the  spokesperson, Commodore Edward Gabkwet wondered why the officer had not been arrested.
He promised that the Force would conduct investigations into the matter.

“Crimes in the Name of Religion”: The Persecution of Christians, November 2021

‘The servants of Allah entered my house in order to remove the clothes which they were wearing, because they were soaked in blood, and said that they had killed an infidel, hence Allah will reward them….’ — Morning Star News; November 14, 2021; Uganda.

Source: “Crimes in the Name of Religion”: The Persecution of Christians, November 2021

Be like Jesus, trust the Spirit

The Baptism of the Lord

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A child is pictured in a file photo being baptized at a church in Mexico City. (CNS/Reuters/Edgard Garrido)

A child is pictured in a file photo being baptized at a church in Mexico City. (CNS/Reuters/Edgard Garrido)

Remember the day of your baptism? It’s highly unlikely, but your parents and godparents and an assortment of relatives probably do. Perhaps they remember the event itself, or the party, or something that went wrong. When we were baptized as infants, we were the star of the show, but, unless we were older, we had no clue about what was happening or the commitment the baptism entailed. When it comes to Jesus’ baptism by John, the opposite is true: he knew exactly what he was doing and those closest to him were uncomfortable with the memory and played it down.

Among the evangelists, John doesn’t even mention Jesus’ baptism, Mark openly depicts it, and Matthew qualifies the event by having John protest that Jesus should baptize him. Luke, our guide for this liturgical year, alludes to Jesus’ baptism, then spotlights the descent of the Spirit and the divine voice that named Jesus as God’s beloved son. For the early Christian community, Jesus’ baptism was an embarrassing admission that Jesus began his ministry as one of John’s disciples.

January 9, 2022

Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7
Psalm 29
Acts 10:34-38
Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

The early community’s embarrassment about Jesus’ relationship to John helps us understand Jesus in his own context. Luke tells us that John’s preaching left people filled with expectation. John preached radical conversion. He had set up camp along the Jordan River, a site with enough water for his ceremonies and near a well-traveled trade route that assured a steady flow of people could hear his preaching. Most of all, the site was near Jericho, the place where Joshua had first entered the Promised Land. John preached and baptized from a desert spot from where his converts could cross the river and enter renewed into the life God offered them. John’s baptismal rite, unlike people’s ordinary ritual washings, had to be received — people did not do it for themselves. This established a unique relationship between John and the baptized, symbolizing their acceptance of his call to radical conversion. Baptism was a public proclamation of commitment.

After the infancy narratives, this is Jesus’ first appearance in the Gospel. Jesus’ baptism signaled a life-changing decision. If we read the Gospels without imposing later teachings on them, we see that they depict Jesus as a thoroughly human man whose goal was to discern and do God’s will and to bring others along with him. We assume that until this time, Jesus had lived as an ordinary craftsman, one more among the inhabitants of Nazareth. Then one day, he joined the tax collectors, soldiers and throngs of ordinary folk going to John. He identified himself with their hopes and needs rather than with the righteous who felt no need for major changes. This, Jesus’ first public act, declared his loyalty: He would stand with the people who desired a radical return to God for themselves and their world.

After allowing himself to be baptized, Jesus heard the divine voice say, “You are my beloved Son.” Whatever it had taken to get him to that moment, whatever the options he had discarded and doubts he had to overcome, Jesus had received not just a baptism, but an affirmation and a naming. When Luke describes the Spirit and the voice that came to Jesus, the background music is that of the Servant Song of Isaiah 42 in which God says, “Here is my servant, my chosen one upon whom I have put my spirit.” That song about God’s servant reaffirmed Jesus’ choices and set him on a path to serve the neediest of God’s people.

We noted that Jesus’ followers were reticent to admit that he had been baptized by John. As he continued his mission, some would continue to be embarrassed and even scandalized by the way he enjoyed the company of sinners and portrayed God as always kind and merciful. The people had been full of expectation, but he was not exactly what they expected.

The day of Jesus’ baptism might be compared to the day a couple marries, a priest is ordained, or a woman or man religious pronounces their vows. Each of those is an extension of our baptismal call and grace. As on the day of our baptism, we have precious little idea about all that these commitments will call forth, except that they will call us to live radically, losing ourselves in love and serving others in the manner of Jesus.

Today is a good day to renew our baptism and the commitments that have flowed from it. It is always risky to make commitments about an unknown future, but like our Lord, we can trust that the Spirit will lead us to where God will say, “You are my beloved in whom I am well pleased.”