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Kidnappers use 12-year-old boy as collateral to buy 2 bags of rice worth ₦180k

The boy claims he was hypnotised by a man he met on the road while on an errand.

The kidnappers used the boy to dupe the rice vendor (image used for illustrative purpose) [Tribune]

His father, Pastor Joshua Ogbonna, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Lagos that suspected kidnappers allegedly took his son and used him to buy two bags of rice valued at ₦180,000 from a food stuff seller.

He said that on Friday, March 1, at about 9:00 am, his son was asked to buy moi-moi (bean-pudding) for family breakfast and did not return home.

According to him, when the boy went to the place to buy the moi-moi, the seller told him it was not ready, but collected the money and told him to return when it is ready. Some minutes later, the boy went back to the woman to collect the moi-moi, but never returned.

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"We were looking for him everywhere, we went to the place he was supposed to buy the moi-moi and asked the lady selling. She explained that the boy was there earlier but the moi-moi was not ready, and that she collected ₦1000 from him and asked him to come back later.

"She explained that when he came back, he came with a man and the lady thought the man was his father, the man collected the moi-moi from her and they both left. She said the man was putting on white top and black trousers, dark in complexion. I told her we have been looking for him, and thereafter, we went to New Oko-Oba Police Division at Abule-Egba, to make entry, so that they can help me look for my child," he said.

Ogbonna further explained that while they were still at the station, around 5:00 pm, he received a call from another police officer, who said he was calling from Red House Police Station, Iju Ishaga. The officer told him his son was with them and he should come to the station.

He said he went there with three policemen from New Oko-Oba Police Division, where they told the officer that there was a report of a missing child.

"The police officer who called me said this is not a case of a missing child, but theft. The officer said the child stole two bags of rice. I asked, 'How can a 12-year old boy steal two bags of rice?' I told the officer that we live in Abule-Egba.

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"The police showed me a footage of two men and the boy, who went to the rice seller. The police man said that the men bought two bags of rice for ₦180,000. The officer said one of the men claimed they had a church event and needed to buy rice. The man claimed he was the father of the boy. He asked the boy to wait at the rice shop, while he went home to get the money. He left with the two bags of rice in company of the other man," he explained.

Ogbonna said the officer explained that when the man did not come back with the money, the rice seller asked the boy the whereabout of his father who brought him there.

"My boy told the rice seller he didn't know the man nor where he lived, they started beating him, calling him thief. While he was being beaten, a man came up to his rescue. They told him all that happened and went to the police station with my boy to report the case, that was when they called me. The Police said there is a CCTV camera that captured them when they were coming to carry the rice.

"They didn't show me where they were carrying the rice. The rice sellers insisted I must pay for the rice, I told them, I can't pay for two bags, I will pay for one bag for my son to be released to me. I paid ₦90,000 for one bag of rice. After that, Police said I must bail my child, I told them it was not possible. They insisted, then I told them, I will leave my child with them if they refuse to release him to me. I later paid ₦5,000 to bail my son," he said.

Ogbonna said he left the Red House Police Station for Oko-Oba Police Division to close the case of missing child with ₦10,000 payment. He said his son later told him how he met the man on his way to buy the moi-moi.

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According to his son, while going to buy the moi-moi, a man stopped him, and requested him to hold his phone for him that he wanted to use water to wash his legs. After the man washed his legs, he collected the phone from him, hit his head and made some incantations. He said that was the last thing he remembered.

"My son said the only thing he could remember was that he was on top of a motorcycle to a place with the man, where they took a tricycle (Keke Maruwa) to another place, from there, they took another motorcycle to Opawale, where the man abandoned him.

"The trauma was hell for my son. He has not recovered up till now. It was God, who saved his life," Ogbonna said

The Lagos Police Command's spokesperson, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, confirmed the incident, stressing that the police was investigating the case. Hundeyin advised traders to beware of fraudsters using innocent children as collateral to obtain goods.

"Insist that they leave with their brother or sister and bring the money before they can take any item," he counseled.

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