Kidnappers Used 12-year-old Boy As Collateral To Buy Two Bags Of Rice

by Ohepo Ohepo

A 12-year-old student in Junior Secondary School 2, whose identity remains undisclosed, was reportedly manipulated by suspected kidnappers to purchase two bags of rice valued at N180,000, as shared by his father, Pastor Joshua Ogbonna, with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos yesterday.

Pastor Ogbonna recounted that on the morning of Friday, March 1, around 9 am, his son left home to buy bean pudding (moi-moi) for the family’s breakfast but did not return. Initially, when the boy went to buy the moi-moi, he was informed by the vendor that it wasn’t ready but paid N1,000 in advance and was asked to return later for it.

Upon his son’s second visit to collect the moi-moi, he vanished. “We searched for him frantically and even inquired from the moi-moi seller. She recalled seeing my son earlier, and when he returned, he was accompanied by an adult man, who she presumed was his father. After collecting the moi-moi, they both departed,” Ogbonna explained.

The distressed father reported his son’s disappearance to the New Oko-Oba Police Division at Abule-Egba. Later that day, he received a call from an officer at the Red House Police Station in Iju Ishaga, informing him that his son was in their custody.

Upon arrival at the station, Ogbonna was informed that the case involved theft, not a missing child. The police revealed CCTV footage showing two men and the boy at a rice shop. One of the men, falsely claiming to be the boy’s father, said they needed rice for a church event and left the boy at the shop as collateral, promising to return with payment for two bags of rice they took but never did.

When the rice seller demanded payment, the boy insisted he did not know the man. This led to the boy being beaten and accused of theft until a bystander intervened and accompanied him to the police station to report the incident.

Ogbonna negotiated with the rice seller, agreeing to pay N90,000 for one bag of rice to secure his son’s release. Additionally, he had to pay N5,000 to bail his son from the police and another N10,000 at the Oko-Oba Police Division to conclude the missing child report.

SP Benjamin Hundeyin, the Lagos Police Command’s spokesperson, confirmed the incident and mentioned that an investigation is underway. He also advised traders to be cautious of fraudsters exploiting innocent children to commit fraud, suggesting that they should demand payment upfront before releasing any goods.

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