Kelvin Okorie (aka Okito), the maternal cousin of the 15-year-old Ogun schoolgirl, Precious Nwaigwe, who was kidnapped and sold to Libya, has said he was paid N10,000 for the deal.
Okorie spoke on Tuesday at the Police Command Headquarters in Ikeja, where he was paraded along with his friend, Ogbonna Njoku (aka John).
Njoku’s brother, Nzube Chukwu, who is based in Libya, was said to have taken custody of Precious before selling her to a pimp.
The pimp claimed she bought Precious for $6,000 and forced her to work for the money.
PUNCH Metro had reported that Precious returned to the country on Friday after she finished paying the money and an additional 500 dinars.
She had told our correspondent that she was betrayed by Okorie, who she trusted.
Precious on Tuesday said she observed Okorie arguing with his friends over money, without suspecting that it was his share of her sale that he was asking for.
She also admitted joining street girls in Libya, after she was tortured by the pimp so she could raise the $6,000.
“I spent almost a year paying the money,” she said.
However, Okorie, a tiler, while talking to journalists, denied knowing the money he collected on the fateful day had anything to do with Precious being trafficked.
He said, “There was a day I was going to my house in Ojota when a lady called me and said she was my cousin. I said I did not know her, but after she introduced herself to me, I recognised her.
“I asked what she was doing in that area by that time of the night because it was 10pm. She said I should come and see a guy, who she introduced to me as her boyfriend.
“She followed me to my house, together with one of my friends, Daniel. She narrated everything that happened to her and how she was attacked by cultists in Ode Remo.”
Okorie said his friend, Daniel, who was to travel asked him if Precious would be interested in travelling with him.
He said he was happy and discussed it with the victim, who agreed.
“She said she had not finished schooling, but I said she could go there to continue her education and even work at a filling station where she could make money and send to her parents.
“It was after that day that we went to Ogbonna (Njoku)’s place in Alaba. Ogbonna gave us the number of his brother in Libya and I did not know what they planned. It was while we were at Alaba that Daniel gave me N10, 000.”
However, Njoku said his brother, Chukwu, had only spent three years in Libya and that he did not know the business he was into.
Njoku, who sells compact discs in Alaba market, claimed Okorie, Precious and Daniel only visited him and demanded his brother’s phone number, which he gave them.
“Immediately I connected them with my brother, I left them. I was surprised when the police arrested me. I did not know anything about this. It was after my arrest that I learnt what happened,” he added.
A mild drama however played out when the police spokesperson, Kenneth Nwosu, put the two suspects together and querried them.
Below is an excerpt of what played out.
Police PRO: Okorie, the N10, 000 you collected was for what?
Okorie: I said I did not have money and that was why Daniel gave me the money.
Police PRO: Was the money meant for the sale of Ugochi (Precious)?
Okorie: He just gave me the money.
Police PRO: What was it meant for?
Okorie: (Stammers)….I collected the money, I did not mean to sell her.
Police PRO: Did you tell Ugochi’s mother before taking her to Libya?
Okorie: No, I didn’t tell her.
Police PRO: Why did you lie to Ugochi that you told her mother you were taking her to Libya?
Okorie: (Stammers…) Daniel said I should lie to her (Precious).
Police PRO: The girl’s mother is your cousin, the time Ugochi was missing, you were aware, why didn’t you tell her her daughter’s whereabouts when you saw her?
Okorie: Sir, I am very sorry.
Police PRO: Did Okorie tell you that Ugochi was missing and her parents were looking for her?
Njoku: No, he didn’t tell me they were looking for her.
Police PRO: Okorie, did you tell him or not that they were looking for her?
Okorie: I told him
Njoku: Can we swear about that?
Nwosu said the suspects would soon be taken to court, adding that the police had already arraigned three other suspects earlier arrested in connection with the abduction.
They are Innocent Onyekwe (38), Ugwu Maduabuchi (37) and Christian Chima (19).
The Commissioner of Police, Kayode Aderanti, said the police liberated the victim.
He said, “The investigation process was long, tortuous and harrowing. We deployed cutting edge technology and adopted out-of-the-box tactics to achieve results. At every turn, the safe liberation of the victim was top on our operational engagements, taking into account the pains and trauma of the parents.
“Numerous suspects were arrested, but the breakthrough came when a decoy team of the Special Anti Robbery Squad, led by the Officer-in-Charge of the squad, SP Abba Kyari, arrested Okorie, a cousin to the mother of the victim. Through him, contact was established with the gang members in Libya, which subsequently led to the safe return of the victim to Lagos on Friday, almost a year after her abduction.”