Four unidentified gunmen on Monday in Ikot Odiong, Eket Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State, stole a two-year-old boy, Idaraobong Isaiah.
The gunmen, who arrived at one Mr. Solomon Assam’s house, near Eket Central Market about 5am, were said to have disguised as a combined team of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and the Nigeria Police Force.
It was gathered that the gunmen claimed they were in the house to investigate an alleged sales of marijuana.
Residents of the area told our correspondent that the men pretended to be searching for the alleged narcotic, beaming searchlight on every nook and cranny of the house.
Idaraobong’s mother, Mrs. Sarah Isaiah, said she and her family were surprised to see the gunmen in their apartment, especially when they claimed to be searching for marijuana.
She said she told the gunmen that they did not have any anything to do with cigarette, let alone sales of marijuana.
She said, “The four men broke into our apartment. They accused us of possessing and selling Indian hemp. They asked if we did not know that the product was outlawed; they threatened to jail us if a trace of marijuana was found in our house.
“We tried to reason with them that there was no such business, but the gunmen insisted on searching the house. They beamed their searchlights on different rooms.
“When these men saw my child on the bed, they snatched him and took him away with them. They threatened to shoot any of us who dared stand in their way.”
The village chairman of Ikot Odiong village, Mr. Ita Ita, called on Akwa Ibom State Government and security operatives to step up action aimed at cracking down the child kidnapping ring that had been terrorising many communities in the state. He added that the ring specialised in kidnapping children from five months to eight years.
“There must be an urgent action by the government and police to stop these miscreants who are terrorising the communities and kidnapping little children almost on a daily basis.
“How can such act continue without any action? We can no longer keep silent. Where are they taking these children to? None of them have returned alive or dead,’’ the angry community leader said.
A youth leader from Effoi, Mr. Joe Bassey, said that more than 15 children had been kidnapped in the neighbourhood alone within the past two months.
He said there were similar reports in other parts of Eket, including Nsit Ibium, Onna, Esit Eket and Oron.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Akwa Ibom State Command, Mr. Etim Dickson, confirmed the child’s stealing, but said the police had initiated a manhunt for the culprits and the possible rescue of the victim.
He said, “One Glory Solomon of Ikot Odiong Village reported that while she was sleeping in her house, two hoodlums broke into the house and stole her sister’s son, named Shedrack Isaiah, aged two years.
“Police have initiated manhunt for the rescue of the victim and possible arrest of culprits.”