The Lagos command of the Nigeria Police Force, on Friday, paraded an evangelist with a church in the Ikorodu area of Lagos alongside other suspects for allegedly exploiting 11 kids for street begging.
Lagos state police Commissioner, Mr Fatai Owoseni told newsmen that his men stormed the church on a tip-off after two of the under aged children were spotted begging for alms.
Owoseni said detectives, after interviewing the children, stormed the church premises where others were rescued and one Lois Antinso was arrested.
The police commissioner said the church was being investigated to know its involvement in using the children for street begging and slavery, The Sun reports.
The suspect, Atinso said “I am attached to the church. I am an Evangelist in the church. We run an orphanage/less privileged home at Agbede road, Ikorodu. We care for the poor, needy, orphan, widow, destitute and abandoned. All support funds are paid to the church’s account.”
She denied any wrongdoing and expressed shock that the leader of the church denied knowing her.
“I was shocked when the Bishop of the church came to the police to deny me. We go out three times, a month to beg for assistance. It is not as if I leave the children to go on their own. I am saying that the children are too small to speak. The police interrogated them and they started talking as if I allow them to go alone. The day I was arrested I was taking two of the children, nine and 10 to the bank to teach them how to use ATM. It was not as if I took them out for begging.”
One of the children, Nnoso said “We were begging when the police picked us. We used to go for begging three times a week. People used to give us alms, food items, clothes, shoes and money. We used to hand over the things to Aunty.
“I came to Lagos in company with one of my aunties. She took me to the church and handed me over to the aunty in the church. My aunty in the church warned that whenever my mother called from the village, I should tell her that I am alright and that I must not tell her that I am in the church. Each time my mummy called, I used to tell her that I was with my real aunty that brought me from Imo state to Lagos.”