MEMBERS of the Joint Task Force (JTF) stationed in Lokoja, Kogi, on Sunday intercepted 20 vehicles conveying more than 103 children, suspected to have been trafficked.
The JTF commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Gabriel Olorunyomi, made this known to newsmen in Lokoja, on Sunday.
He said his men became curious when they discovered that the occupants of the vehicles were mostly children, accompanied by some men and women.
He said the vehicles and the occupants had been taken to the Army Records Headquarters in Lokoja, where they would be screened to ascertain their actual destination.
Olorunyomi, however, said 103 of the passengers were children with ages between three and 16, while 79 others were between 19 and 53 years.
He said preliminary investigations revealed that the vehicles were conveying the passengers from different communities in Benue, Cross Rivers and Kogi.
“Most of the passengers are from Obi, Oju and Gwer local government areas of Benue, while the remaining few are from Iyala Local Government Area of Cross Rivers and Olamaboro Local Government Area of Kogi,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that all the passengers, apart from giving similar excuses for their movement from their various communities, also said they were all heading to Ondo, Ekiti, Osun, Oyo, Ogun, Lagos and Edo states.
NAN also learnt that most of the passengers conceded that they were heading to the South-West states for the first time in search of vacation, while some said that they wanted to go and do some farm work.
Two of the drivers, Bolaji Olusola and Ade-deji Oluwaseun, told newsmen that they picked up the passengers at motor parks.
They said some of the passengers paid their transport fares at the loading points, while some others promised to pay when they got to their destinations.
NAN recalled that the JTF, on July 27, arrested a man conveying 10 children with ages ranging between six and 16 in an ash colour Toyota Camry car to Lagos.
The man, who was arrested on the same route, was later handed over to the police for interrogation.
Also speaking to journalists, Major-General Alphonsus Chukwu, the commander of Army Re-cords, said the children might be victims of child trafficking.
Chukwu said the drivers were also suspected to be accomplices, as they failed to produce the passengers’ manifest and agreed to carry many of the passengers without collecting their transport fares at the loading points.
The army officer said the vehicles, drivers and passengers would be transferred to the police for proper investigations and action.
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