Parents of four missing children in Lagos State on Friday stormed the Special Anti-Robbery Squad in the Lagos State Police Command to identify an apprentice, Mary John, as the person that stole their children.
The parents and some of their neighbours identified 28-year-old John as the woman who stole the children while pretending to be an apprentice.
PUNCH Metro had reported that John was arrested after SARS operatives tracked her to a building in the Badagry area of Lagos.
John, whose real name is Gladys Austin, a mother of one from Cross River State, had stolen one Oluwasemilore in the Alagbado area of Lagos a month ago.She had barely spent a week as an apprentice of Oluwasemilore’s mother, Tobiloba, a beads maker, when she absconded with the three-year-old.
It was learnt that John, upon her arrest in Badagry, led the police to Anambra State, where she had sold the child.
The alleged buyer was reported to have resold the victim. Oluwasemilore was later recovered from the fourth buyer.
It was gathered that after PUNCH Metro published the story, parents of four other missing children visited the Lagos command.
PUNCH Metro observed on Friday as six ladies were lined up for the parents to pick from.Despite several rearrangements, the women, who went at intervals, picked John.
The children allegedly stolen by the suspect were four-year-old Farouk and his six-year-old sister, Kafayat, who were declared missing in the Okokomaiko area of Lagos in November 2016.
John had also allegedly pretended that she wanted to learn hairdressing from their mother, Suliyat Azeez, before she fled with the kids.
Two other children were said to have been stolen by the suspect in the Sibiri area of Lagos State.
The two victims were reported to be children of a neighbour of another hairdresser with whom John worked as an apprentice.The hairdresser, in whose care the children were, was reportedly arrested and arraigned in court.
She was said to have been remanded in the Kirikiri Minimum Prison over the incident, which happened about seven months ago.
The father of the two Okokomaiko siblings, Fatai Azeez, expressed hope that his children would be found.
He said, “
When we saw her picture, we just rushed to the command and immediately, we recognised her (John).
“But the policemen said we should hold on. They just paraded her among several other ladies, and my wife picked her. We also called our neighbours, and without saying anything, they also picked her.
“We have been assured that something will be done and we are keeping hope alive.”
A source said the parents of the other missing children had initially identified her before the police insisted that the hairdresser be fetched to also identify John.
A police source said the police would have to grill the suspect to explain if the allegations were true and where she sold the children to.
“She has yet to own up to stealing the other four children. But in the end, we will know what to do,” he added.