The discovery of baby-making factories in many parts of the country where babies are produced for sale points to a new trend in human trafficking
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Jun. 17, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
THE production and sale of new born babies has become big time business in Nigeria. The discovery of baby-making factories in many parts of the country has drawn attention to the nagging problem of child trafficking in the country. According to investigations, a new born baby is sold for between N50, 000 and N200, 000, depending on the sex of the baby. The factories from where the babies are produced recruit and camp pregnant young girls, mostly teenagers who are lured into getting pregnant and keep them until they give birth for buyers.
The number of these homes especially in the south eastern part of the country is alarming. A most recent case of this disturbing trend was the arrest of Adenuga Soyibo and Elizabeth, his wife, who allegedly bought twin babies for N1.8 million from a woman in Rivers State and attempted to smuggle them out of the country. The couple were arrested by police operatives at the special fraud unit in Ikoyi, Lagos, after a tip-off. Few weeks ago, in Enugu, the police, following a tip-off, discovered another hideout from where six pregnant teenagers were rescued.
In Imo State, the police command there recently rescued 17 pregnant teenagers from Ahamefula Motherless Babies’ Home, owned by Madam One Thousand. The police command also freed 14 pregnant teenagers from Umuguma Motherless Home, owned by one Chinedu who claimed to be a pastor. The trend has gone bizarre prompting a 20-year old man in Aba, Abia State, to sell his only son last April for N350, 000 to enable him procure a Greek visa to leave the country. The list is endless.
What could be responsible for this unconscionable practice? Many Nigerians believe that poverty and the falling societal values and norms are responsible for the increase in the business. Ben Ezinma, president, Civil Society Coalition Against Human Trafficking, said the causes of the boom in the business are poverty and ignorance. He explained that if governments want to get the owners of these homes out of business, they can do it by tackling the problem of unemployment which forces young girls into the odious business. If what lures young girls into pregnancy is put in check, most of these homes will close down.
“The causes are poverty and ignorance. Poverty must be tackled on all fronts. Some of the girls get pregnant by accident and once they find themselves in any of these homes, they are hypnotised or encouraged to stay longer and get the money they would use to start a business thereafter. In some cases, they are told to stay back and have more babies to earn more. After all, they just sit in a place, get fed and impregnated, and when they deliver, money is given to them. So, what have they to lose?
“What we need is aggressive reproductive health education so that people will be well informed. In the beginning, the boy’s intention was not to impregnate the girl, but once it happens and the girl finds herself in that situation, the evil ones go to work. She would be lectured on the advantages of what she has done, but nobody would tell her the disadvantages,” he said.
Christian Ukandu, a teacher, attributed the increase in teenage pregnancies and baby factories to mass poverty. “Poverty is the major factor causing teenage pregnancy. Most families find it difficult to feed three times daily and as a result, they lose control of their children. Peer pressure eventually lures them into social vices including unwanted pregnancy. Child trafficking is on the increase and the root cause of it is poverty. As a teacher, I have observed that teenagers become uncontrollable at a particular stage of their lives, and it takes the true concentration of parents to notice this and re-direct them, because once they are not put right at this stage, it is finished”, Ukandu said.
Meanwhile, a coalition of Nigerian and international nongovernmental, children and human rights organisations has called on the government to take decisive steps to curb the growing menace of baby factories in some parts of the country. The groups condemned the rising commercialisation of newborn babies in the country during this year’s Children’s Day celebration in Abuja. They said the celebration called for sober reflection following the clamp-down on a home in Imo State where 22 pregnant teenagers were rescued from selling their babies for between N50, 000 and N350, 000. Similar cases have previously been reported in Abia, Lagos, Abuja and other states.
The coalition includes Africans Unite Against Child Abuse, AFRUCA-UK, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria, ERA/FEN, Media Concern Initiative for Women & Children, MediaCon, Healing Hearts Foundation, Spaces for Change, Project Alert on Violence Against Women, Charles and Doosurh Abaagu Foundation, and the Women Environmental Programme, WEP. “This year’s Children’s Day celebration calls for sober reflection because more than ever before, our beloved country is again being made the laughing stock of the whole world,” the groups said.
They added that there is no longer any reason to doubt the ratings of Save the Children, an international NGO, which last year identified Nigeria as one of the worst places to be born in 2013. The groups cited Abia State as the state with the highest trend of illegal sale of babies and called on Theodore Orji, governor of the state, and other governors to take a cue from the prompt action of the Rochas Okorocha, Imo State governor, in shutting down all illegal motherless and adoption homes in the state.