Peace Sandberg, who holds a dual Swedish/Nigerian citizenship, has been jailed for 26 months after having been found guilty of bringing a child illegally into the UK. The presiding judge accused her of engaging in trafficking, according to the BBC.
Sandberg knew that as a European citizen living in the UK she had a right to seek council housing. She was also aware that having a baby would enable her to jump the queue.
Sandberg decided to fly to Nigeria where in the capital, Abuja, she paid the equivalent of 1,750 kronor ($293) to buy a new-born baby. Sandberg then approached the British High Commission to gain the paperwork required to return with the baby to the UK.
She told the officer at the British High Commission that she had wanted to give birth in Nigeria to secure Nigerian citizenship for her baby. The officer found no reason to doubt the legitimacy of her story.
But when Sandberg returned to the UK and approached the Ealing council housing department they did not believe her story.
“She said that the child was hers, but council officers had seen her only a few months before and knew that it couldn’t be hers as she wasn’t pregnant at that time,” said Ealing county councilor Ian Green to the BBC.
Sandberg tried to change her story and say that she had adopted the child. Council officers referred the case to the police who investigated her story.
The problem is reportedly common but does not always get reported to the police.
“We get information brought to us about suspicions of child trafficking particularly for housing benefit fraud from social services and child protection organizations. We believe that it is much more widespread than people realize,” said Christine Beddoe of the children’s charity ECPAT UK, to the BBC.
Peace Sandberg was jailed for 26 months despite her pleas of innocence. The baby has been placed into foster care and is likely to be adopted and grow up in the UK.