Police in Owerri, the Imo State capital, has rescued 17 pregnant teenagers from an illegal motherless babies’ home.
The home, Ahamefula Motherless Babies’ Home, located in Umuaka, Njaba Local Government Area of the state, is allegedly owned by a middle-aged woman simply identified as ‘Madam One Thousand’.
Also rescued from the home after the police raid on the ‘baby factory’ were 11 children waiting to be sold to prospective buyers. The expectant girls, whose ages range between 14 and 17 years were said to have been impregnated by a 23-year-old boy simply identified as Oyibo.
The girls, who looked pale and unkempt, are at various stages of pregnancy. The pregnant teenagers wept profusely during their parade at the Police Command Headquarters in Owerri.
The state Commissioner of Police, Musa Mohammed Katsina, told journalists that the illegal home was raided by the Ambush Squad after a tipoff.
Katsina said that the proprietor, who is now at large, was producing sachet water in the compound to deceive the public about what was actually going on in the home.
The commissioner added that when the police invaded the tightly secured compound, “17 pregnant minors were seen holed up in different rooms in the large compound with some of their kids playing around.”
The police also paraded Oyibo, who confessed to be responsible for all the pregnancies and a 55-year-old security man, Mr. Uzoamaka Okoli, from Nempi Amafor in Oru West Local Government.
On Monday, Police in Abia apprehended a fake social worker, Ngozi Nkwonu, who also runs a baby factory under the pretense of operating an orphanage, where teenage girls are impregnated and the babies sold off.
Briefing journalists on the discovery, the Commissioner of Police in Abia State, Usman Tlli Abubakar disclosed that one Odinakachi Samuel from Ovurungwu Village, Isiala Ngwa South Local Government Area, who delivered a baby girl connived with the nurse Monica Benjamin to sell her baby for N150,000.
Suspects, who were arrested in relation to the case were accused of selling and trafficking babies at the cost of N450,000 while the teenage mothers were paid N10,000 for giving up their children. The Police boss warned that the command would not tolerate any form of criminality in the state as its primary priority is sustained peace and security.
Those arrest are the latest in series of investigations that indicate the preponderance of criminal networks that specialise in operating maternity clinics and orphanages for the sole purpose breeding babies for sale.
The cases came into limelight in 2008 following the arrest of a doctor in Enugu, Enugu State, who ran a clinic from which 20 pregnant women were rescued by police after a tip off. The doctor had lured the girls into the clinic offering to give them cheap or free abortions and subsequently held them in captivity until the babies are born and sold off.
The criminals also prey on poor desperate young girls, who voluntarily lease out their wombs to produce babies for trafficking. In many other instances the women are raped and detained against their will and forced to sell their children at birth.
The babies, according to investigation, are not just sold to adoptive parents, but are also used for child labour, sexual abuse or prostitution, and possible sale of body parts for use in witchcraft rituals or for organ harvesting. The Federal Government had passed an antitrafficking law which makes the buying or selling of babies illegal in Nigeria and carries a 14- year jail term.
Although the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTID, monitors trafficking cases, human trafficking remains the third largest crime in Nigeria after economic fraud and the drug trade, sources claim.