Six months after a report by The PUNCH chronicled the ordeal of a mother of three, Fortune Obhafuoso, in the hands of an Inspector, Samuel Ukpabio, whom she accused of forcefully taking her newborn, Joseph, and conciliating her with N185,000, the Lagos State Police Command, on Thursday, confirmed the dismissal of the errant cop.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, who confirmed the development during a telephone conversation with our correspondent, said following Ukpabio’s dismissal from the Force, he would be charged in court.
He said, “The recommendation for the dismissal of Inspector Samuel Ukpabio has been approved. This automatically paves the way for his prosecution.
“The Commissioner of Police, Idowu Owohunwa, assures Lagosians of his unwavering determination to police the state within the dictates of rule of law, civility and respect for human life.”
Our correspondent had reported that Ukpabio, a policeman attached to the State Criminal Investigation Department, arrested Obhafuoso on Friday, December 23, 2022, the same day she delivered her newborn.
The policeman, thereafter, took her alongside her three children to the police formation in the Yaba area of the state, where she was accused of attempting to sell the baby, a claim she denied.
Obhafuoso said during interrogation, Ukpabio forcefully took her baby and handed him over to a yet-to-be-identified woman from a government ministry in the state.
The cop subsequently gave her N15,000 and chased her and her two remaining children out of the police formation and warned her against returning to claim her baby.
Ukpabio sent her another N170,000 after the aggrieved mother kept demanding the child.
“The last time I saw my newborn was at the SCID, where a policeman, Samuel Ukpabio, connived with people who pretended to help me and stole my baby. All I want is my baby,” the 35-year-old told our correspondent in a special report published on Friday, January 6, 2023.
Contacted to get his reaction to Obhafuoso’s allegations a day before the special report was published, Ukpabio said the government had taken over the baby.
“They wanted to sell a baby for N3m and that is baby trafficking. The child is in the orphanage home with the government. The person that wants to buy the child is now in Kirikiri (Prison),” Ukpabio said.
Asked about the N170,000 sent to Obhafuoso, the policeman said, “When things happen like that, instead of them going and messing up themselves, they would do something for you so that you can establish yourself so you won’t be in that form again. So, the amount sent to her was to take care of herself.”
Asked why he released Obhafuoso as he claimed she wanted to sell her baby for N3m which is an offence, Ukpabio said, “She has two other children; they wanted to collect them from her because she can’t take care of them and she started crying and pleading and because of the way she pleaded, she was released instead of taking to the Kirikiri (Prison).”
Ukpabio declined to reveal the name of the orphanage home and the ministry involved, nor where the money emanated from when he hung up the call.
However, in a bid to locate the whereabouts of the baby and to ensure that Ukpabio and his accomplices were arrested, our correspondent on the same day Ukpabio was contacted for a reaction to the aggrieved mother’s allegations, informed the PPRO and the Officer-in-Charge of the SCID, Waheed Ayilara, about the errant cop’s shenanigans.
In his reaction to our correspondent’s revelation about Ukpabio’s illicit acts, Ayilara said, “You have given me a very detailed story. I need to look into this, I will get the person involved and do all necessary things that I ought to do professionally and will get you duly informed through the PPRO.”
The PPRO in a reaction later that same day, said, “The said officer (Ukpabio) has been taken into custody and investigation has commenced.”
Following Ukpabio’s arrest, the PPRO confirmed the arrest of two female suspects linked to the missing baby.
“Both of them (female suspects) have not denied collecting the baby but we still don’t know where the baby is. We are still working and by the end of tomorrow, we should be able to tell where they took the baby to. So, we have a total of three people in detention now; the inspector, and the two ladies,” the PPRO said.
Till date, the whereabouts of the baby had remained unknown.
In her reaction to the development, the Founding Director, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, while facilitating the process of locating the whereabouts of the baby, petitioned security agents to wade into the matter.
She said, “It’s a complicated case; we are concerned about the life and security of a day-old baby taken away from her (Obhafuoso) and also the complicity of the police in this matter. We call on the government and law enforcement agents to ensure that this case is properly adjudicated upon; where is the baby?”
A rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), also said it was not enough for the police to claim that Ukpabio had been arrested, adding that he should be charged and “must produce the child.”