The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has defended its recent arrest of two suspected child traffickers with 44 minors in Kaduna State, after a church faulted the action.
The United Church of Christ in Nigeria (HEKAN), Kaduna, had issued a statement on Friday saying the children were its Sunday School pupils and the adults with them their teachers.
According to the church, the children were on their way to attend the HEKAN National Sunday school camp in company with their teachers when they were arrested by the FRSC officials.
However, the Corps Public Education Officer, Mr Bisi Kazeem, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on phone tha the travellers were held after the two adults failed to satisfactory explain their movement.
``The vehicle was actually meant to carry load, but they carried children inside.
``On interrogation after arresting them for overloading, the two adults there could not explain satisfactorily where they were taking the children to.
``At that time we didn’t have any choice than to believe they were traffickers and that was why we handed them over for interrogation, simple as ABC.’’
The Vice President of HEKAN, Rev. Emmanuel Nama, who signed the statement, had dismissed the FRSC’s story as ``false and baseless’’, and demanded public apology from the Corps.
But Kazeem ruled out any apology, saying the FRSC did not pass judgment on the suspects as insinuated by the church.
``No apologies at all because the essence of investigation is to find out ... and that is why we said `suspected traffickers’, we didn’t say they were traffickers.
``In law, once you accost somebody or someone you say `alleged or suspected’.
``So, if eventually investigation is done by agencies concerned and they say `well, they are so so and so’, then so be it.’’
Kazeem gave account of the arrest in a statement on Wednesday.
According to him, FRSC operatives stopped a J5 bus on the Kaduna-Zaria road for overloading only to discover it was ``stacked with 44 minors and two adults suspected to be child traffickers’’.
He said the two adult occupants told the patrol team that they were going for a church programme ``in a location they could not name.’’
``The Sector commander who got wind of the case as soon as the vehicle was impounded alerted the Commissioner of Police in Kaduna State where the vehicle and the occupants were handed over to the Criminal Department for further investigation,’’ he said.
The church said the children were now at the headquarters of HEKAN on Katsina road for the Annual Sunday school camp