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The week that just gone by presented us another facet of decay in our society. Not that it is a new trend, it has been around since God knows when, especially in the South Eastern part of Nigeria where it appears domiciled.

I'm talking of another style of modern day slavery, with the difference being that in this style, babies are the beings being traded upon. Of course, they are beings! They may be some hours or a day old, still they are beings and are entitled to be taken care of by their mothers, nay, biological mothers. If foetus in the womb have right to live, then infants just given birth to, deserve some rights.

One of which is to be fostered by their real mothers.

But, people in the mould of Dr Ben Agbo and a nurse identified as Mrs Nweke will not allow this be as they must have concluded in their perverse minds that the opinion of babes regarding who should raise them up is inconsequential. The duo were last Thursday paraded by operatives of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps in Enugu for running what many have come to know as baby factory.

In this illegal maternity home, pregnant teenage girls are lured to come and put to bed, after which their babies are sold off at an exorbitant rate while them(the mothers) are given peanuts to go home with. A total rip-off of the teenagers, their babies and the society for the pecuniary gains of the perpetrators.

I would have passed for this story and focused the attention of this column on the brigandage that has overwhelmed Rivers State or the eventual acquittal of Al Mustapha by the Appeal Court sitting in Lagos, but I was beguiled by the claim of Dr Agbo who maintained that he was only offering a humanitarian service.

How much more preposterous and ridiculous can a fellow get?

The suspect who had been arrested by the police, claimed he was doing a humanitarian job of assisting those in need of children adopt babies through him at the same time saving pregnant teenagers or mothers from engaging in abortion. This, he noted, was what he earlier told the police that made them release him unconditionally.

If this was true, then has nous taken flight from our police stations.

How would the police, on such featherweight of a claim, allow a man like that to go and continue sinning, which was what he did? Have the police now arrogated to themselves the power to free offenders?

Shouldn't they have charged the man to court and allowed the courts determine whether his vocation is in conformity with our laws or not?

Or did the man part with a part of his ill-gotten proceeds at the station as we are wont to believe? The police, it is, that has all the answers.

Now to the man who said he is a doctor, could it be that he knows not the definition of a humanitarian service hence his claim of offering one when what he does is anything but a humanitarian service? Or does he think we all are as dumb as the police officers he sold the dummy to and they left him off the hook? As a doctor, does the ethics of his profession support this his brand of humanitarian service?

Since the man seems ignorant, let's school him by making him understand that you can't offer a humanitarian service yet make so much financial returns, for he was reported to be selling the babies in excess of half a million naira.

Hear his warped argument, "in humanitarian gesture like this everything should not be free. If you collect like N100, 000.00 or N120, 000.00 from there you feed and do other things and give the baby to a particular person who have been crying to have one. When the mother will be going, you can settle her with N20, 000.00."

He apparently knows what he is doing- pulling the wool across people's eyes with the gullible falling for it thereby presenting themselves as capable of committing atrocities for Voltaire submitted, 'Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.' I'm grateful his tale didn't catch me one bit.

Still talking humanitarian service 101, let's lecture this man and others in his school of thought that humanitarian service is not carried out in a manner that constitutes nuisance to the wider society.

The same Thursday he and his accomplice were paraded, it was revealed, at the commemoration of this year's World Population Day with the theme- 'Preventing Teenage Pregnancy', that 18 million underage girls get pregnant every year. The statistics further revealed that over one in every five girls have given birth before the age of 18 globally. It then becomes incontrovertible that it is people like Dr Agbo that make this possible, burgeoning the world's population for his selfish interest.

It beats me that the suspect who is aged 70 is still involved in a calling as dubious and abominable as farming babies with all its negative attributes. Being a septuagenarian demands one living a sober and dignified life as life expectancy in our country is far below that age.

I am equally surprised that a man of his age cannot see anything wrong in what he does for a living. A 70-year old man should in actuality have no business being in the rat-race to acquire wealth to the extent of going about it in an under-the-table manner.

However, it needs to be clarified that this column is too big to have Dr Agbo as its subject. He is only a metaphor that is used to refer to all who own and maintain baby factories. For goodness sake, they should get a life! What they are doing is a great minus for our society. It is my believe that deep down they know that what they are in to isn't 'humanitarian service' but humanitarian disservice!

This is because teenage pregnancy is believed to be the biggest killer of teenage girls worldwide as their pelvic bones are yet to reach the maximum size that can comfortably see them through child birth. It basically exposes them to the deadly vesicovaginal fistula(VVF) that allows the continuous involuntary discharge of urine into the vaginal vault.

When this infection is contacted, not even the peanuts the teenage mothers received from the doctor contractors can deliver them from it.

The practice of running baby factories goes ahead to place an unnecessary health and psychological strain on the babies and their teen mothers. It also prevents the babies from enjoying their mother's breast milk which to me is a great act of injustice.

Further, the farming of babies provides a ready supply for ritualists who may feign a wife in need of a child only to buy off the baby and use same for rituals. For baby factories don't place measures, stringent enough like the orphanages, to guard against this. It's even possible that those managing the factories would know that the babes are to be used for sacrifices, yet they won't mind as money is just what they are concerned about.

Aside these, the idea of baby factories encourages promiscuity among youths as they will tell themselves that all they need do when they become noticeably pregnant is to check into any of the illegal maternity homes, be delivered of the baby when the time is due, forsake same and make some money for all their troubles.

With such a facade, a horny boy can easily convince a naïve lass to unzip, increasing sexually transmitted infections in its trail. These are some of the ways the activities of Dr Agbo and his ilk constitutes a humanitarian disservice to our nation and even the world. Thus, it shouldn't be allowed.

A search through suspects who have so far been paraded for engaging in this crime reveals that most of them are said to be of the medical profession either as doctors or nurses. This therefore places a demand on the relevant professional associations to monitor what their members are doing.

Parents equally have their hands full in this. It is appalling to observe that some parents dispatch their teenage daughters to these baby factories upon discovery that they are pregnant. Shame or cupidity aren't enough reasons to warrant parents distancing their grandchildren from their real mothers.

Even when their teenage daughters, in their youthful exuberance, err by registering for any of the illegal maternity homes, the parents should resolutely force them out of such places.

And for the police, I'm lost for what to tell them since they could believe the vain justification Dr Agbo gave for his enterprise. They had better embraced wisdom and learnt to hand over to the courts suspected culprits who farm babies.

In reality, every stakeholder concerned should play their parts well enough for us to contain this menace. Else we would be re-defining humanitarian service to be in the negative light. And should that be the case, we would be the worst for it.

Written By Ugochukwu Ugwuanyi
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