From Port Harcourt to Lagos to Abuja – and other major towns and cities in the country – an old, but secret business, now termed baby factories is gaining traction and mention frequently in the media space. Young ladies are kept, impregnated, and birth babies which are “sold” out to those who can afford it.
Another terrible scenario is when children are abducted and sold to desperate, childless women or others for a variety of reasons.
In some cases, the buyers are prepped for a period of time where they are put on medications to make them look robust and pregnant for a while, as a prelude, to being delivered of their phantom “pregnancies”. In some cases, husbands are involved, but others have been known to have been deceived.
Shortly after the “pregnancies”, the women get admitted into hospital within the same city or town or move put to another city where they are handed the baby at a handsome price.
Many stay away from home to give an impression of a difficult birth, and a variety of other reasons. The ‘trade’, kept secret for decades and operating in many ways in different cultures in Nigeria is being exposed as greed and carelessness – some say, inadequate protection fees and short-changing – come into it.
In some other cases, some orphanages have been accused of plying the infamous trade.
In Lagos, again, the Police have uncovered another baby factory in the Isolo area of the State.
Just two weeks ago, 19 girls were rescued, according to the Police, from a baby factory in the same State.
Wednesday, the fresh figure of seven pregnant girls, were said to have secaped from where they were being housed in Isolo. The girls said to be aged between 13 and 27 fled on finding out their babies were to be sold. They had a two years old child tagging along.
Found stranded around the Cele bus stop, Oshodi-Apapa Expressway a little after midnight, they were rescued by the Isolo Divisional Police Officer and his team.
According to the Lagos State Police spokesman, DSP Bala Elkana, the expectant mothers claimed that they were tricked to Lagos.
Barely two weeks ago, Elkana, had disclosed the discovery of 19 girls brought into Lagos by a woman simply identified as Madam Oluchi, who is on the run.
Oluchi, a mother of five, from Mbano, Imo State, allegedly brings the girls to Lagos from six South-South and South-East States to get them impregnated.
Elkana said the babies are sold based on their sex. The boys go for half a million Naira, the girls N300,000.00.
His words, “On September 19, 2019, at 4pm, while acting on the strength of information from a reliable source, detectives from the Isheri Osun Police Station, led by the Divisional Police Officer, CSP Chike Ibe, stormed a building at 14 Adisa Street, Ayanwale area, Ikotun, Lagos, suspected to be used for child trafficking.
“Nineteen pregnant girls, aged 15 and 28, were rescued. Four kids were also rescued. They were recovered from four different locations.
“They include: 32 Owosho Street, Governor Road, Ikotun; 29 Olugbeyohun Street, Olakunle Bus Stop Abaranja; 4/6 Anomo Street, Abaranja and the address mentioned above. The pregnant women were brought from Rivers, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Abia and Imo states.
“Two suspects, namely Happiness Ukwuoma ‘f’ 40 years old, and Sherifat Ipeya ‘f’ 54 years old, were arrested in connection with the case.
“The suspects did not receive formal medical training but operate as nurses. The suspects are natives of Imo and Epe, Lagos states, respectively. The young women were mostly abducted by the suspects for the purpose of getting them pregnant and selling the babies to potential buyers.
“The girls were tricked with employment as domestic staff in Lagos.
“The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, CP Zubairu Muazu, has visited the scene and ordered the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department to take over the case.”
Also, another media report says one of the six suspects arrested by the police for stealing and selling babies to childless women confessed that she sold two of her own children with the consent of their fathers.
The suspect, Blessing Stephens, was arrested by the operatives of the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT) after stealing a boy from a couple at Ikota area of Ajah, Lagos State.
The 25-year-old suspect was arrested alongside five others, including a homeopathic medical doctor, Una Ekong Godwin, 58; Blessing John 27; Israel Ariyo 33; Itoro Anthony, 40, and Mrs. Mforbong Itoro, 48.
She said:” I am from Nsitayi, Odor Akwa Ibom state but resides in Ijota Ajah area in Lagos. I dropped out of Bright Academy Secondary School, Ajah, due to a financial problem.
‘’There, I dated one Julius Abang and he impregnated me. I had a boy called Emmanuel with Abang in 2010 but we broke up in 2011. Only my mother was taking care of me and when life became unbearable for me I sought an advice from one Mrs. Mforbong and she advised me to sell the child and tell the father that the child had died if he ever cared to ask.
‘’I was working as an office assistant and my mother did not know that the child was sold. In 2012 I started another work in a shopping complex in Ikota. When I went to Akwa Ibom for my mother’s burial I dated another guy, a truck driver and he impregnated me but after two years he abandoned me after impregnating another girl. After one month I sold the baby but I got only N100,000.
‘’In 2013, I got another lover named Israel who is an iron bender. Within six months he impregnated me but he was so poor that he could not even feed me nor pay house rent. The motorcycle he usually used to find small money was destroyed by someone who put salt into the engine and the motorcycle became useless.
‘’We decided to sell the baby for N250,000. Mrs. Ntoro collected N20,000 and she advised us to tell whoever asked after the child that the baby died and had been buried.
‘’Later, Mrs. Ntoro called from village that she needed another baby boy. I told my sister Blessing John to steal a baby boy from Ikota. It is this one that put us in trouble.’’
On July 14, 2019, a four- year-old boy, Master Ojo Adegboyega Fapounda was stolen from his parents in Ikota housing estate Ajah, Lagos by his neighbour identified as Blessing John.
She allegedly took the stolen child to Ibadan on July 15, 2019 to meet her childhood friend, Blessing Stephen. The child spent three days in the house of Stephens’s husband identified as Israel Ariyo.
The stolen child was taken to Akwa Ibom and sold to one human trafficker, Mrs Mforbong for N350, 000. Unfortunately for the buyer, the toddler started crying uncontrollably to the hearing of neighbours who wondered why the child was crying in the house of the old woman who had reached menopause.
Afraid that she might be exposed, the woman advised Blessing Stephen to return the child to his parents in Lagos after three days on the pretext that the child was too old for her to buy and that she preferred a week- old baby instead.
Blessing (Stephen) returned the child to Ibadan and handed him over to Blessing (John) to return the boy to his parents at Ikota in Ajah area of Lagos.
Determined to take the child to a place close to Ikota, she tried to deceive a security man attached to a church at Ketu, a Lagos suburb that she wanted to leave the boy with him in order to pick some items across the road, but the security man declined.
Unknown to the security man, Blessing later sneaked into the church through the back door and dropped the baby and bolted.
On discovering the baby in the church, the security man reported the matter to the church authorities and the matter was reported to the nearest police station.
The baby was subsequently taken to a childcare centre in Lagos by the police.
Operatives of IRT traced the suspects to Ibadan, Oyo State capital following a petition by the father of the boy leading to their arrest.