A female evangelist, identified as Lois Atinso, has been arrested in Lagos State for allegedly using children for street begging.
Atinso, who is attached to a yet-to-be named church, claims to run an orphanage/less privileged home at Agbede road, Ikorodu area of the state.
When the police got wind of her activities, they stormed the church on Saturday, arresting the evangelist and no fewer than 11 kids were rescued.
One of the children, identified only as Nnoso told newsmen at the police headquarters, Ikeja: “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, who took me to the church and handed me over to the Aunty (evangelist) 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,” the 9-year-old said.
But Atinso denied the allegation, saying “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.
“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,” she insisted.
The state Commissioner of Police, CP, Mr Fatai Owoseni who paraded the suspects (Atinso and Bishop) said the lid was blown off when two of the underage children were seen begging for arms.
According to him, “Detectives after interviewing the children, stormed the church premises in Ikorodu, where others were rescued and one Lois Antinso was arrested.
“The church is being investigated to know its involvement in using the children for slavery,” the CP added.