A witness, who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said the stolen baby was a year and six months old.
The source said, “The boy is my brother’s son. His name is Chibueze Ezechukwu. He is one year and six months old. He and his parents live in Onitsha.
“On Sunday, they went to the Ibah Pope Catholic Church, Awada Onitsha. During the offertory, a woman gave money to my brother’s housemaid, who carried the baby, to go and drop in the offertory box on her behalf and asked to keep the baby on behalf of the maid.
“When my brother’s housemaid came back, she didn’t see the woman and the baby. She started looking for them and up till now, we have not been able to find them.”
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Haruna Mohammed, confirmed the incident to our correspondent.
While describing the incident as an emerging criminal trend in the state, Mohammed advised members of the public to “be wary of this new pattern of child stealing and report suspicious persons to the nearest police station for prompt action.”
The PPRO also advised religious leaders to take adequate security measures in their places of worship in order to avert such an ugly trend.
He stated, “One Mr Olisachukwu Ezechukwu of No. 1 Orakwe Close, Awada, reported at the Awada Police Station that his housemaid, one Ruth Ukwuoma, 16, went to the church in Awada with his son, Master Chibuike Ezechukwu, aged one year and six months.
“The complainant alleged that during offertory, the housemaid handed over his son to a yet-to-be identified lady, who sat beside her and who gave her the sum of N100 as offering.
“However, by the time the housemaid came back from the altar to her seat, she discovered that the lady had disappeared with the child and was nowhere to be found.”
Mohammed said police detectives had visited the scene and efforts were being intensified to apprehend the suspect and recover the child.