When Kelechi Ugo met Kanayo several years back at Comprehensive Secondary School, Amakohia in Imo State, she saw a young man with a promising future. She did not, in her wildest imagination, envisage that situations would make him harm her in any way. Unfortunately, the reverse turned out to be the case as her heartthrob ended up not only abandoning her but sold their two-year-old son for a paltry N300,000.
Narrating her ordeal, the 28-year-old catering apprentice told Crime Guard: “I met Kanayo while we were in secondary school in Imo State and we started dating. After our secondary education, we went our separate ways. As fate would have it, we became reunited in 2006 during the Christmas season and we continued from where we stopped. Later, I got pregnant for him and informed him and he accepted.
“While I was pregnant, he came to see my parents and informed them that he was responsible for putting me in the family way. After that, he never came back and I didn’t hear from him till I put to bed. Immediately I delivered, he started calling me, but I refused to pick his calls because I felt abandoned. But later, I began to pick his calls and pardoned him on the condition that he should come to my family and perform all the necessary things. But he never did, and that was why my family disapproved of our relationship.
They warned me severally but I kept on believing that when things got better for him, he would do the necessary things. So, we kept seeing each other. Even when things were difficult for him, I stood by him. And when he had accident and was hospitalised, I kept visiting him.”
Formal hand over of our child
‘’After he recovered from the accident, he informed me that he wanted his elder sister to take our son, Samuel, while we relocate to Lagos. Initially, I refused because I didn’t like the idea of living separately with my two-year-old son. I later agreed after much persuasion that it was for our greater good and that in less than three months, when he could adequately provide for our needs, our son would come and live with us in Lagos. Also, I discovered that I was pregnant for our second child and there was no way I could refuse to go with him.
“However, I did not know that the woman he introduced to me as his elder sister, is a retired nurse who specializes in child racketeering. Kanayo never told me that he was going to sell my son. All he said was that he wanted Samuel to live with his elder sister in Owerri while we move to Lagos so that he could get a better job.”
Relocation to Lagos
“When we got to Lagos, we lodged in an hotel at Ikotun before a friend of his, Jerry, helped us to secure an apartment which Kanayo paid for. Barely a week in the new place, he said he got a painting contract in Owerri and he travelled. He left me with my second pregnancy and no feeding money but sent Jerry to give me N1,000.
All this while, I wasn’t myself knowing that my son was far away in Owerri. I kept demanding that he bring my son back to Lagos. When I kept pestering him, he assured me that his sister’s husband would bring my son back to me in Lagos.”
“That same day, I called him at about 6pm and he said that his sister’s husband and my son were involved in an accident and they died.
I called his sister who confirmed the incident. It was then I cried to Jerry and his wife who live in the neighbourhood and told them what had happened. They consoled me and assured me that all would be well. They however shocked me by revealing that Kanayo had told them that he was never going to marry me, that I was not presentable and not up to his standard. But deep inside me, I refused to believe that my son was dead.”
Abandoned in Lagos
“So, when the landlord came to complain that Kanayo called him to refund the house rent because of the condition of the bathroom, which Kanayo had complained about before, I got scared. It became obvious that he wanted to abandon me again here in Lagos like he did back home, during my first pregnancy. Feeling abandoned in a strange land, it was then I told the landlord of how he gave our son to his sister and later claimed they died in an accident. After narrating the incident to the landlord, he advised me to make an entry at the police station, which I did. We had to trick Kanayo to come to Lagos. The landlord called him to come and take back the money he paid for the apartment. And he fell for it.”
“The landlord and I planned it. Immediately he arrived, police from Ikotun Division arrested him. After thorough interrogation, he revealed that he used our son to borrow money. When the case was later transferred to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) Ikeja, he admitted that he actually sold our son to a woman in Port Harcourt. Detectives then proceeded to Port Harcourt and arrested the nurse who provided the telephone number of the woman whom she claimed she sold my son to.
“The police then used the number to trace the woman to Nkanu in Enugu State and arrested her together with her sister-in-law that introduced her to the nurse. They were also able to recover my son.”
Nurse tells her story
In her defence, the 45-year-old retired nurse who masterminded the entire arrangement told Crime Guard: “I am a mother of three from Ikeduru Local Government Area in Imo State. I reside at Satellite village in Port Harcourt. I don’t operate a baby factory, but while I worked as a nurse in a hospital, the doctor who is now late was involved in this kind of business. Sometime ago, Cecilia called me on phone that she wanted to adopt a baby boy. I told her that none was available but I assured her that as soon as anyone was available, I would reach her. So, when my brother, Emmanuel, called that his friend, Kanayo, wanted to sell his son, I contacted Cecilia who was excited about the development.
“We agreed to do the transaction in Owerri. Kanayo came with his wife, Kelechi, and son. Initially, she was reluctant to let go of her son but eventually, she did as I claimed to be the elder brother of Kanayo. We paid Kanayo N450,000 out of the N650,000 we collected from Mrs Cecelia Nwatu. I knew that the baby was being sold and I knew that it is a crime to sell a child. The reason I agreed to be part of the transaction is because it was the father of the child that decided to sell his child.
“Before the transaction, he signed a written agreement that he was selling off his child. My brother, Emmanuel, collected N100,000 from the remaining N200,000 and gave me N100,000. I used part of the money to pay my children’s school fees and invested the remaining amount into my business. I was arrested in Port Harcourt. I didn’t know where Cecilia who bought the child lives. So, I gave the police her phone number.”
Buyer opens up
Cecilia Nwatu, 42, a mother of three who bought the child also spoke to Crime Guard: “I live in Nkanu, Enugu State. I am married with three children, two female and a male. I am a civil servant and I work at Nkanu Local Government Council. For long, my husband and I had been trying to adopt a male child since our 10-year-old only son is disabled. He is unable to talk. We wanted a son to bear the family name. I was deceived. I told Nkechi, the nurse, that I needed a child to adopt. When she brought the child, I asked if that was how adoption is done. She told me that they have several processes involved in adoption and this was one of them. I loved the child as my own and cared for him as my own child. That was why I named him Tochukwu (Praise God), and put him in a private nursery school.
“My husband is in the hospital. He is paralysed and has been in the hospital for three months. I am the one taking care of him all this while. If I had known, I would not have gotten involved in this.” Weeping profusely, she lamented that she was misled by Nkechi Obi, who told her that it was a legal process of adoption.
“My children”, she concluded, “are aged 13, 12 and 10 respectively.”
Sister-in-law of buyer speaks
The sister-in-law to the buyer, Gladys Nwobodo, 38, who accompanied her during the transaction, also spoke to Crime Guard: “I have three children. The woman who bought the child is my brother’s wife. She asked me to accompany her to Owerri to collect the child. On our way back to Enugu State, she told me she paid N650,000. The reason she decided to adopt the child is because her only son is living with disability. We thought it was a legal adoption process we didn’t know it wasn’t.”