Two persons are in the grips of the Northern Regional Police command for allegedly trafficking 11 children and an adult from Zabzugu District. The two were reported to be transporting their victims to Kumasi for onward transportation into other parts in Southern Ghana.
The suspects, Kwaku Manu, 45, and Nkabeye Joshua 24, both natives of Zabzugu in the Northern Region, are currently in Police custody assisting investigation.
The victims are between the ages 9 and 20, and were allegedly trafficked from Zabzugu to Kumasi to be engaged in various forms of child labour and illegal activities such as kayayei and child prostitution.
The Northern Regional Police Crime Officer, Supt Bernard Baba Ananga, who confirmed the arrest to the Daily Statesman said on January 10, at about 7.30pm, the Regional Police Command, acting upon intelligence, arrested the suspects in Tamale.
According to him, the arrest followed the vigilance of some good Samaritans who saw the victims alight from a bus together with the suspects at a stopover in Tamale to take dinner before continuing their journey to Kumasi.
He said a police officer, who was monitoring a confrontation between the civilians and suspects over the victims in front of the Tamale Vodafone office, called for police intervention.
Supt. Ananga disclosed that a team of investigators from the Regional Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Police in Tamale proceeded to the said location and arrested the two suspects.
The Crime Officer said preliminary investigation revealed that the suspects recruited 11 children in Zabzugu and boarded a passenger bus, with reg. No. AS 2430-15, to Kumasi, enroute remote villages in Western North Region to work on cocoa farms.
“The bus made a stopover in Tamale township at about 7:00pm for passengers to take their dinner. Suspects alighted with the victims to buy food but were accosted by some good Samaritans who were suspicious of their movement. This attracted police attention, leading to the arrest,” he narrated.
He said the suspects were detained while the rescued victims were sent to the Regional Police Guest House, Tamale, for shelter, adding “efforts are being made to trace the victims’ relatives in Zabzugu to assist investigation.”
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimate that between 200,000 and 300,000 children are trafficked each year for forced labour and sexual exploitation in West and Central Africa.
In 2003, the Ghana Child Labor Survey Report published by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) revealed that over 49,000 children were involved in the fishing industry in Ghana.
About 25 per cent of the children were 5/9 years of age; 41 per cent were 10/14 years of age, while 34 per cent were 15/17 years of age.