By Ameh Ejekwonyilo
An Abuja-based woman, Mrs. Esther Tanko, has appealed to the Independent Investigative Panel of the National Human Rights Commission probing the activities of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad, to help her retrieve her missing three-year-old son.
In her testimony on Tuesday before the Justice Suleiman Galadima (retd)-led panel in Abuja, Esther said her son, Elijah, was kidnapped in Dutse, Abuja, on September 9, 2019, but was discovered by the police some months later after he had been allegedly sold for N8m.
Esther whose petition had been submitted to the National Human Rights Commission on September 2, 2020, said despite being shown her son whom she said was able to recognise her and other family members, her frantic efforts to retrieve him since then had been futile.
She said, “I was asked to provide the necessary documents of my son for more clarification and I provided them all. After then I was asked to come back the next day to take my son. When I went back the next day, the IPO (the Investigative Police Officer) named Desmond went ahead to collect my son from the orphanage home.
“Before then, I was told that my son was sold at the rate of N8m and that the lady who collected my son from me was also in SARS office. I was told that the lady was caught with the children that were abducted during that period.
“In the process of the IPO going to bring my child, to my surprise, another woman appeared claiming the ownership of my son. So, I was not allowed to take my child with me that day.”
She said the number of women laying claim to the boy grew to three prompting the police to direct that a DNA test must be conducted to identify the true mother of the child.
According to her, the DNA test involving her and the three other women was carried out at the General Hospital in A.Y.A, Abuja, after which they were told to return for the result in about a month’s time.
She said, “After the one month was due, I went back to their office (SARS office) and I was told that the doctor said he was confused and that the DNA test would have to be done again in Lagos.
“The IPO also told me that during the one month waiting period, other five women came to claim the same child.”
She said she suspected that the woman who allegedly bought her son for N8m was the one “sending people to claim the child”.
The complainant who said she was “confused and helpless”, told the panel, “I want you to help me find my child and bring him back to me.”
Asked if she knew where her son was, the petitioner who was led in evidence by the panel’s lawyer, Mr. Tony Obiagwu (SAN), said she was told he was still at an orphanage.
She tendered what was described as the missing boy’s birth certificate issued by the National Population Commission, the child’s photograph and his No-Polio Vaccination Card issued by the Federal Ministry of Health on February 2, 2018.
The respondents to the petition are the IPO, Desmond, the Commissioner of Police, Federal Capital Territory Police Command, and the Inspector General of Police.
The lawyer representing them, Mr James Idachaba, said he would liaise with the relevant police authorities to find out the status of the case and report back to the panel.