Alexander Okere, Benin
THE Edo State Police Command has arrested the owner of God’s Home Orphanage, one Kehinde Imarigbe, over the discovery of a missing four-year-old girl in the centre.
Southern City News gathered that Imarigbe was detained on Monday after she reported at the state police command in Benin, following a formal invitation by the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Johnson Kokumo.
The little girl, Elo Ogidi, who was reportedly stolen during a church service at the Christ Embassy in Oregun, Lagos State, in July, was said to have been found in the orphanage last Friday.
It was learnt that police operatives had raided the facility located in the Siluko area of Benin, following a tip-off.
The four-year-old was rescued and reunited with her parents.
But the suspect, who was paraded on Tuesday, said she did not know that Elo was stolen.
She claimed that her orphanage was registered by the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development and had been operating for four years with 15 children.
She further claimed that the little girl was brought to her centre by a man, who claimed to be her father and identified himself only as Mr Chukwuma.
According to Imarigbe, the man claimed that he brought the girl to her due to a misunderstanding he had with his wife.
The suspect said, “On July 8, at about 6pm, a man came to my orphanage and brought a girl, saying that he was the father of the child. I said adducted.
“When I looked at the child, she was looking tattered and was smelling. As a God-fearing person, I could not reject the child; I accepted her.
“I told him that if he was the owner of the child, he should come back at 9am the next day to do some documentation. The man came to the orphanage at exactly 8.30am and put down his phone number and address.
“I asked him what the name of the girl was and he said her name was Sweet. The child was not feeling fine; so, we treated her for malaria.
“Mr Chukwuma usually came to visit the child. About two weeks ago, he came; even when the child was sick, he came to the orphanage and gave me N1,000 to buy drugs for the girl.
“He (Chukwuma) said he and the wife had a misunderstanding. He told me that his wife was in Libya.”
Imarigbe claimed that she could not communicate with the four-year-old because she (Elo) did not speak English.
“I talked to the child. I noticed that the child did not speak English; she spoke French,” the suspect added.
When Southern City News asked her whether she reported the case to the police, Imarigbe said, “No, that was the mistake I made because the man always came to check the child.”
She continued, “If a child was abandoned, we go to the police station and make a complaint that no parent has come to claim the child. But Sweet (Elo) and the man (Chukwuma) looked alike.
“I have been calling him since July 24 but his line did not go through. And I pray that, wherever that Mr Chukwuma is, God will expose him.
“I was not around (when the police came); I went for a church programme in Sapele. It was my receptionist that called. They (police) said that I should report (at the command’s headquarters).
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“I went to the ministry before I reported; nobody brought me (to the police) because my mind is clean. I did not know that the girl had a mother in Lagos. It was recently that I knew that she had parents in Lagos.”
However, the Commissioner of Police maintained that the missing girl was found under questionable circumstances and added that the suspect would be brought to book, if found culpable.
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