Nigerian major airline, Air Peace, has said its crew frustrated the plan to traffic a three-day old baby boy from Port Harcourt to Lagos last Sunday.
The crew, the airline explained, suspected that the female passenger who was carrying the baby was not his biological mother, and further enquiries confirmed their suspicion, and she was barred from boarding the flight.
“Eagle-eyed Air Peace all-female crew comprising Captain Sinmisola Ajibola; Senior First Officer, Onohi Agboighale; Mojoko Ewane, Taiye Abbey, Victoria Ukpiaifo and Ngozi Ezeamaka last Sunday frustrated an attempt by a middle-aged woman and her collaborators to traffic a three-day-old baby boy through the Port Harcourt Airport to Lagos.
“The suspect had booked Air Peace Port Harcourt-Lagos Flight P4 7393. During boarding, the Lead Crew of the flight, Mojoko Ewane, observed that the suspect was handling the baby in an awkward manner and decided to question her,” Air Peace explained in a statement signed by its Head of Communications, Chris Iwarah.
Iwarah said when the suspect was questioned at the boarding door of the aircraft, she said the baby was three days old. She, however, later told her interrogators that the baby was born on January 5, a day before her aborted trip. The suspect said she gave birth to the baby shortly after travelling from Lagos to Port Harcourt on an Air Peace flight on January 5.
“A call was later placed to the contact numbers the suspect said belonged to her husband and the doctor who handled the birth of the child. While the alleged husband claimed that his wife was actually pregnant, the alleged doctor’s number rang unanswered.
“When the suspect was asked to breastfeed the baby, she could not as there was no breast milk,” the airline said.
The statement said the suspect tried to create a scene, rallying other passengers on the flight to prevail on Air Peace crew to allow her fly, but the crew stood its ground.
“When the crew informed the suspect that the carrier’s standard operating procedure barred them from allowing passengers fly with a week-old baby on grounds of health, she claimed to be a nurse and insisted that the baby’s health would not be jeopardised,” the statement also said.
The airline, it was gathered, later invited personnel of the Department of State Services (DSS) at the Port Harcourt airport to take over the case for further investigation.
Iwarah said the airline was proud that its crew professionally discharged its responsibility to ensure passengers’ safety and assist the government in fighting crime.
A DSS source in Port Harcourt also confirmed that the suspect had been transferred to the zonal office of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, for further investigation.
The source claimed that the suspect confessed that a lady gave her the baby. The DSS source commended Air Peace crew for foiling the attempted child trafficking with their vigilance.
In June 2018, Air Peace crew also exposed a suspected trafficker of a three-month-old baby on its Lagos-Banjul flight.