HOW HORRIBLE BABIES ARE MANUFACTURED
The terminology “manufacturing babies” or “baby factory” is a very strange one in the contemporary world, and in Nigeria until the last two daceds. I have not heard any stranger word in modern days. How can this kind of anti-human business thrive in places where acclaimed white-manlike people dwell? It is surely a very dangerous development in Nigeria and if nothing is urgently done about it, then our collective national adversaries to gay marriage, war against child abuse – child labour, trafficking and manufacturing as well as the push for national integration and development will not have tangible base. But the people of South East are known to be industrious in nature because they have depended on commerce as their main business for centuries. It is therefore queer why baby farms or factories thrive there.
When the report of babies being manufactured and used for several aims started emanating, little did Nigerians know that it would soon begin to consume the country. Such factories have been discovered in nearly all the states of southern Nigeria. The worst aspect of this ugly development is that it is more rampant in the South East region where its aborigines – the Igbo – in recent times, do not believe in polygamy. They seem to adopt the white man life of “one wife and one or two or no children”. If this is practically true, then why the need for baby factories? Is it not supposed to be found in areas where men and women compete for children? Wonders shall never end!
Investigations carried out by some journalists revealed that Anambra state rates the highest due to the many illegal motherless babies’ homes that dot every nook and cranny of the state. Other states of the South East in descending order are Imo, Abia and Enugu.
Again, investigations have shown that these factories are indirectly owned or run by unscrupulous acclaimed religious leaders with lose collaboration of some elements in the state ministries of health. This has become a human trafficking epidemic in the South East. Imagine the growth of black market maternity homes where profits are made from the sale of children! In most cases, these homes are claimed to provide an escape from the stigma of conceiving a child outside of marriage. But reports, from another angle, show that in some cases the girls are kidnapped and forcibly impregnated by traffickers who sell the babies to couples who are unable to have their own children. Male babies fetch more money than female babies. And according to reports, over 2,500 teenagers have been rescued from 'baby factories' in South East.
Though this activity may be traced to the 1990s, I cannot exactly recall the particular place this inhumanity was first recorded in the southern region. Howbeit, it should be noted that the term “baby factory” came to the open in 2006, when one Ben Ezinma, the Programme Manager of an NGO, Child Rights Network (CHIRN), drew the attention of government to the sale of babies by some unscrupulous persons, motherless babies' homes and orphanages in the South East. One Dr. Akunne was alleged to be the first owner of baby factory in Enugu state where he was severally apprehended by the police and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) but often bounced back. He was eventually prosecuted and jailed. He was reported dead after some undisclosed sicknesses. In the same state, a “baby factory” owned by one Ikechukwu Onoh was discovered and raided, rescuing nine pregnant women who were waiting to give birth to children and sell them to wealthy families. A 23-year-old man was arrested in Enugu state for on the allegation of impregnating girls in a raided baby factory. SaharaReporters most recently narrated how soldiers from the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army busted a notorious “baby factory” in the Gariki area of Enugu. The factory posed as a hospital with several young women at various stages of pregnancy. The operator of the factory, Chinyere Nome was arrested
A baby factory was uncovered in Ilu-Titun in Okitipupa council area of Ondo state by the state command of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), which led to the arrest of 24 suspects. Five pregnant women, five nursing mothers, five babies, two of which were less than a month old and eight men whose duty it was to impregnate the women were nabbed. The factory was owned by one Mrs. Happiness Ogundeji. After delivery, the girls are given little amount, while their babies are taken from them and sold to rich men and women who pay millions of naira, depending on the sex of the baby. Twins are said to be the costliest as they go for N2.5 million.
In Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, one Dr. (Mrs.) Chinyere Emeka Precious, was arrested by the police for allegedly running a baby factory. She was reported to own and operate God's Gift Maternity/Hospital where she injected desperate barren women with substances to make them appear pregnant, after which she would arrange stolen babies for the women. Husband of one of her victims Mr. Joseph said: “My wife was ill. So, I took her to Dr. Precious who has been our family doctor for about one year. Let me tell you that she gave birth to a baby boy. We have accommodation problem; so I suggested to her to let us sell the baby for N300, 000 to get a house.”
But the police said the unit got information about a baby factory syndicate, which specialized in selling of day-old babies. What they do is hypnotize these women, who believe that they are pregnant. They are injected with substances which make their stomach swell. Unfortunately, most women have fallen victims and it has been going on for so many years. “What we saw at the clinic was unimaginable. You see innocent women from as far as Abuja, Kaduna, Calabar, among others, all undergoing the quick fertility treatment. These things are done at an exorbitant price. Prices range between N1.5million to N6million per child.” Dr. Precious Emeka is the wife of the General Overseer of a popular Pentecostal Church in Port Harcourt alleged to have been selling babies at N2.5 million and N6million to her beneficiaries from all parts of the world.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recently reported the arrest of one Ifeanyichukwu Agwu who specialized in smuggling young girls from Amasiri in Ebonyi state to Amaigbo in Nwangele local government area of Imo state where a baby factory was situated. Also of recent, the Nigerian police raided a home in Umuahia of Abia state where 19 pregnant women, ages between ages of 15 and 23, were kept with the intent of selling their newborn babies. French news agency AFP reported that the police discovered a baby factory in Akute district of Ogun state; a three-room bungalow where pregnant girls were hidden in wardrobes. In Owerri of Imo state, the police raided a home and freed 16 pregnant girls and young women allegedly being forced to have babies for sale. The police rescued eight pregnant girls from a baby production factory in Asaba, Delta state. opposite the Federal Radio Corporation, Asaba, and arrested its operator, Mr. John Ihezun.
In April 2012, it was reported that Ihiala, a village along the Onitsha-Owerri expressway in Anambra state, haboured a baby factory identified as Spormil Hospital and Maternity home registered as Iheanyi Ezuma Foundation. The police made a similar raid on another 'baby factory,' which was registered as Divine Mercy Motherless Babies' home in Ibosi also in Anambra state where 20 pregnant teenage mothers and eight babies were rescued. Not long after that, soldiers burst another home at Ugwaku community in Okigwe, Imo state just along the Enugu/Port Harcourt expressway. Another 13 girls were rescued from 80-year-old Grace Erondu in the same state.
Investigations conducted by the Campaign for Democracy (CD) showed that most of the girls were enticed into the trade with monetary offers by the 'baby factory' operators, while others were forced into the infamous trade by poverty and illiteracy. “The rising cases of baby factory in the South-East is a result of the failure of the state governments in the South-East to create jobs for the teeming youths, especially the helpless girls who are easily lured into the trade. There is no other part of the country that has the problem of baby factory; it is a peculiar case with the South-East”, CD said, adding that in Abia and Imo states, about 1,800 pregnant teenagers and babies were rescued from 'baby factories' within 12 months, with the number rising.
While many Nigerians are not happy with the strange trend in the society, a few are calling for the recognition and legalization of the activity. Mrs. Onyeka Onwenu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on that it was shocking that girls could sell the product of their body. She believes that the practice, prevalent in the eastern part of the country, required intense advocacy from government agencies, non-governmental organizations and civil society organizations.
The duty of NATIP in this development is quite unclear. NATIP Head, Communication and Media, Arinze Orakwue, however notes: “the issue of baby sales is not our responsibility; it has come up as a result of sharp practices in our adoption procedure and rules. Adoption, as a fact, is a matter on the con-current list, which both the state and the federal government can deal with. NAPTIP as a responsible agency intervenes just to disrupt the commission of crime in the process. We have drawn the attention of the Ministry of Women Affairs under whose responsibility this matter resides to tackle arising concerns. Bottom line, however, is that it is a corruption of the legal adoption process and the police has overriding coverage on that matter.”
But the founder of the Mind of Christ Christian Centre in California and former Special Assistant to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan on New Media, Reno Omokri wants “baby factories” to be legalized. He says that every civilized nation accepts and promotes this practice as a humane option for childless couples. He wonders why Nigeria should not legalize a practice that “brings succour to childless couple. In Europe and the Americas as well as in Asia, surrogate mothers are well sought after advertisements are placed in bus stations, newspapers, on the underground as well as on the Internet seeking out such women.”
Omokri urged the government to regulate the “sector”, and go after the real criminals. He said, “If women freely elect to be surrogate mothers, the government should not stigmatize them! What Nigeria should do is to effectively regulate these establishments to ensure that the women are there willingly, and that the babies go to good homes. If on the other hand it is demonstrated what they are doing is more than this, such as providing kids to ritualists and occultists, then I will not support it, but that does not seem to be the case.”
*** Muhammad Ajah is an advocate of the rule of law and good governance.