Baby sales racket In Nigeria

Nigeria; The sale of newborn babies is still thriving in the country as more baby factories have been uncovered -baby racket. Not long ago, the activities of a woman, who camps pregnant teenage girls and cater for them till they deliver their babies, were exposed. It was believed that the woman trades in babies, in the name of giving them out for adoption. However, it has been discovered that there are actually more

“factories” of the babies in the country than earlier imagined. It isindeed, a racket. Curiously, the mafia, which runs the business, is believed to buy into government as well as law enforcement agencies and, therefore, remain untouched.

Saturday Sun observed that the business is shrouded in deceit. The owners and operators claim to camp teenage pregnant girls and taking care of them for charity. However, they have failed to say what becomes of the babies after delivery or how their bodies are disposed, in case of death.

Investigation of the hospitals has, however, revealed that there is more to the activities of the operators of the teenage girls homes than meets the eye.

A known factory
Inside the Mercy Maternity Clinic/Nma Charity Home and Child Care Centre, Umunkpeyi Nvosi, Isiala Ngwa South Local Government Area of Abia State, which was in the news recently when the police arrested its operator, girls in their teens and early 20s mill around when Saturday Sun visited. The girls form small groups, discussing only God-knows-what. Some sit by themselves appearing to be in sober mood or wearing pensive looks. Although they come from different places, looking different, in terms of built, they are brought together by common destiny or fate. The agony-ridden faces are reflective of the circumstances of their camping.

All the girls have eaten the forbidden fruit at the wrong time and it is not difficult to tell. Their grotesque figures tell the story. They are all at various stages of pregnancy. These young pregnant girls, about 50 of them, are crammed into the few available rooms in the home, owned by Mrs. Lillian Achomba, a nurse.
When Saturday Sun visited the ‘baby factory’ three weeks ago, the home had bounced back to life after the raid some weeks earlier by the X-Squad Unit of the Nigeria Police on allegation that Achomba was trafficking in pregnant teenage girls. The raid did not finally stop the wheels of the factory turning, as it were.
The Commissioner of Police in-charge of the X-Squad Unit had said that Achomba also operates a private mortuary and cemetery for preservation and burial of any of the girls and/or their babies who died at the home. He said that police operatives dug up one of the graves and discovered a fresh body of an infant with its mother during the raid.

“When any of them delivers, the baby is sold for N150,000 and the children whose HIV status is negative are offered at prices from N200,000 and above depending on the sex of the child. This woman is so rich that she bought over all the security agencies in the state and also highly connected in the state,” the police chief said.

They lied against me
The light-complexioned woman running the home, however, told Saturday Sun that she was framed up as a result of a problem in her community. Claiming that the pregnant girls were in the home at their volition, she volunteered that a new girl was brought to her shortly before the reporter arrived.
Incidentally, the woman’s mien changed completely when the reporter began to probe into the activities of the centre. It was like touching a tiger by the tail, as she became hostile threatening fire and brimstone. Here was a woman, dressed in the robe of civility when the writer arrived, claiming she had no skeleton in her cupboard but only interested in helping underage ladies, who could not restrain themselves from sexual liaisons and thus became pregnant too early. But when the reporter switched on his tape recorder for a formal interview she became visibly uncomfortable. Her face reddened when she was asked the whereabouts of the children born in the home.

Having waited for an answer for what seemed like eternity without one, except blazing eyes, the writer fired again: “How do you recoup the expenses incurred in taking care of the pregnant girls until they put to bed?”
At that point, Achomba had become so agitated that she insisted on inviting in her younger brother, Ukandu Achomba. The siblings then consulted and decided that they must get clearance from their lawyer before responding to the questions. Strangely, the lawyer ordered the duo to maintain sealed lips. All efforts by Saturday Sun to make him lift the gag order was rebuffed.

Saturday Sun had a bad experience in the hands of some youths believed to be working for the centre. On Monday, April 20, a group of four men, reeking of alcohol and marijuana ambushed the reporter and snatched his digital camera that had photos of the camp as well as some of the teenage pregnant girls loitering around the area. He was issued a stern warning not to be sighted in the vicinity again.
In the same vein, Achomba prevented the pregnant girls from speaking with Saturday Sun, as she ordered them into their rooms.

State of the home
One of the characteristics of the home is the prevalence of rats, lizards and cockroaches. Native fowls were seen doing the marathon with the cockroaches all over the place, as rats dashed across in all directions.
According to an inside source, deaths occur in the home regularly. This is attributable to lack of qualified personnel and inadequate facilities.

“The shambolic state of the healthcare facilities in the centre is a problem. In fact, the place operates like a traditional maternity home. The equipment, where they exist, are neither adequate nor safe. There are no qualified doctors or nurses. You can imagine what happens in an emergency, that is if any of the girls develops complications during childbirth,” the source said.

An evangelist (names withheld) told Saturday Sun that there is no doubt the operators of the home are well connected. Otherwise, he argues, the place would not remain in existence till date, considering the hair raising stories emanating therefrom.

Pregnant in, no baby out
According to him, “you do not see any of the girls leaving with a new baby. While pregnant, sometimes you see some of them in the market or in the front of the building relaxing, but when they are leaving, after putting to bed, you don’t see the baby. Something is wrong there. There must be something fishy going on.”
Another pastor from the area corroborated this position. He disclosed that sometime ago, one of his distant relations became pregnant and disappeared and when she came back several months later, there was no child with her. It was suspected that she took up residence in the camp for the period of her pregnancy. Since they lack the wherewithal to follow up the matter and also avoid scandal that could jeopardize the girl’s future, they chose to let the sleeping dog lie. He added that the lady is now married.

When Saturday Sun traced the lady to her matrimonial home in Aba and wanted to hear from the horse’s mouth as it were, she dissolved in tears.
“I don’t want to say anything. I have nothing to say. Please, don’t drive me away from my husband’s house,” she pleaded, sobbing softly.

An old deal
A taxi driver, who identified himself as Isiala, alleged that the baby trade has been going on for quite some time. He claimed that not too long ago, a woman from Anambra State chartered his 504 Peugeot cab and he took her to one of the popular camps. According to the Umunkpeyi indigene, about 30 minutes later, the woman emerged with a child of about four months. He observed that with the swiftness with which she came out, it appeared the deal had been signed and sealed before that day. He added that the woman was so relaxed in the manner of someone playing a familiar game.

Another source told Saturday Sun that some youths watch the back of the operators of the clinic even as the state police allegedly offer security protection. Hence, each time police from Abuja raid the place, it bounces back shortly afterwards.

And going by the experience of Saturday Sun with the police in Abia State, it appears that the complicity theory may be credible. For instance, all efforts to make the state Police Public Relations Officer, Ali Okechukwu, to speak on the matter, was futile. Whenever his telephone number was called to discuss the matter, he would claim to be either driving or attending one meeting or the other. Even when a text message was sent to him, he chose not to respond.

This seems to support the position of the commissioner in-charge of the X-Squad, CP Okorie, who reportedly said that the woman has “bought over all the security agencies in the state.” He added that investigations revealed that the clinic is not registered. Yet it continued to operate, even after the police from Abuja ordered its closure.

When contacted, Mr. Sam Hart, Chief Press Secretary to Abia State governor, Chief Theodore A. Orji, said he was not aware of the existence of the camp. He, however, admitted that he is “aware that such places exist in some remote parts of the state.”

Other factories
It appears that illegal baby trade is really booming in Abia or so it seems. For instance, Saturday Sun investigation revealed the existence of another centre in Aba, where babies are freely sold.
The centre is located in an uncompleted two-storey building off Nicholas Street, by Brass junction, off Aba-Owerri Road. It is tucked away in between high walls and a massive black gate. The hospital has no signpost, but home to teenage pregnant girls whose babies are suspected to be sold when they are delivered.

The pregnant girls, whose number could not be confirmed, are quartered in dingy rooms. All day, the ladies remain inside their rooms, only peeping through the windows to see the world outside. But when night falls, they perch like vultures on the decking of the unroofed building savouring the fresh air they had missed all day.
Saturday Sun learnt that the hospital is well-patronized by those who need babies. In fact, in many instances, the source said, buyers queue, waiting for the girls to put to bed in order to snap up the babies. The source said the location of the hospital is an added advantage, as a buyer would simply melt into the crowd after leaving the premises.

According to an inside source, an average of eight girls share a small room. The number, the source explained, could actually be higher, depending on the number of inmates at a given time.

On the modus operandi, the source volunteered: “When the girls come, the hospital begins to take care of them until they are delivered of their babies. They prepare their food themselves, in turns and eat from the same pot. They hardly go out once they are admitted into the hospital. Beans is a regular feature on the menu because of the nutritional content.”

Community sex/baby making
The source further said: “Sometimes, some boys are brought in to make love to some of the girls who are in heat, so to say. Those who introduce the girls go home with between N5,000 and N7, 000 depending on the stage of the pregnancy at the time of arrival. If a girl is less than four months pregnant, the person who introduced her to the hospital gets N5,000 but if the pregnancy is five months and above, the person is rewarded with N7,000. And when a girl delivers safely, she is paid off with between N40,000 and N50,000 depending on how much time spent there.

Saturday Sun tried to see the doctor in charge on two occasions, but he was said to be unavailable. The undercover reporter was, however, requested to leave his contact address and telephone numbers. But two weeks afterwards, the hospital is yet to make any contact.

Sex-defined price tag
The price of a bay is determined and dependent on the sex. While a female child could sell for between N300,000 and N350,000, a male child fetches between N350,000 and N400,000. So, while the ‘social mothers,’ as they are known, are made to believe that their babies will be put up for adoption by willing foster parents, with the prospect of a guaranteed future, the fact remains that they are mere money spinners for the doctors. However, to create a semblance of a legitimate transaction, the baby merchants brandish phony documents.

The source hinted that the rate of deaths in the hospital is high, attributing it to poor and inadequate medical attention. Because of the pricing formula, based on the sex of the babies, a lady who operates a scan, revealed that girls whose tests show they are carrying boys, get better medical attention because the product/commodity she bears attracts more money. He did not say how the corpses of dead babies are discarded.

A former staffer of the hospital, who identified himself as Morris, alleged that workers were usually meant to take compulsory oath of secrecy by swearing to a juju not to divulge any information about the place to anyone no matter the circumstances.

Orthodox factory
A certain private hospital on Okigwe Road, Aba, was recently fingered as a baby factory.
When Saturday Sun visited the hospital, very prominent, at an end of the street where rugs and carpets are sold, it was locked. However, peeping through the broken glass door, it was discovered that the ceiling fan, in the front office, was on.

Mr. Ndubuisi Ekeh, who sells electrical gadgets beside the hospital, described it as a market. According to him, at the place, babies are sold, like beans cake, adding that NAPTIP raided the place some time ago.

Baby factory under watch
Speaking with Saturday Sun, Mrs. Ijeoma Okoronkwo, zonal head, National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Human Persons and Other Related Matters (NAPTIP, Enugu zone, said the organization is working on the hospital’s case and other teenage camp centres in Aba.
The NAPTIP chief explained that the medical director of the hospital is trying to stop the agency’s investigation and prosecution.

“We know he sells babies in the name of adoption,” she said, adding: “There are reports of so many other areas where babies are sold in the area. We are investigating them. It is assuming an alarming proportion around the South East and NAPTIP is not taking it lightly.”
She argued that the illegal baby trade is booming because of the high profit in the business and low risk, volunteering that the agency was determined to nip it in the bud.