Wednesday, 30 March 2016

End of the road for baby factory owners in Ondo By Solomon Adewoye



Like new clothes getting used to the body, a new way of making money through the sale of new-born babies and child-trafficking is gradually being perfected across the country in different dimensions.
The racket of mating young girls and boys to “produce” children for sale to desperate buyers is fast gaining prominence not only in the South-East but also in the South-West. Operators of the homes and their syndicates usually scout for teenagers or other classes of females with unwanted pregnancies or yoked with inordinate desire for materialism, who they lure to their herbal clinic for delivery.
If this category may find rationalisation in today’s world of freedom of anything, even to be in chains, some syndicates, however, do not need the interference of providence in their trade, so they simply recruit some teenagers, who are then impregnated by their male syndicate members, and kept hostage throughout the gestation period.
Thereafter, the owner of the home pays them off and, at a negotiated price, hands the babies to the desperate childless women who patronise the herbal clinic for fruits of the womb or to other shades of clients for their nefarious ends.
Investigations revealed that the patrons of these homes are high-heeled and well-to-do couples who visit mostly at night in sleek automobiles. The business is now common in South-Western Nigeria, especially in Ondo State, as the traffickers smile to banks every day.
In Ondo State, child-trafficking is now common unlike in the past when it is regarded as not only a crime to humanity but also to God. Of recent, over 10 cases of child-trafficking have been reported and handled by relevant security agencies in the state.
These included the two suspected Camerounian ladies, Ngala Nungu and Mrs. Mende Cecilia, who were arrested by the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) at the Calabar seaport for allegedly stealing a five-day-old baby girl. Nungu claimed that she delivered the baby at Okitipupa through the help of a lady who specialises in herbal medicine.
Interestingly, some individuals who specialise in this unwholesome act told The AUTHORITY that they do not deserve to be punished since they help to satisfy people’s needs. Among them is the Chairman of prostitutes in Ondo State, Ms. Rose Ojeme, who told journalists when she was arrested in January that she was into the business to make a living and that she gets over N50,000 per month through the business.
In January, 24 suspects were arrested in Ilu-Titun in Okitipupa Council Area of the state by the NIS state command. Also in the same month, the state command of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) apprehended two women traffickers who specialise in bringing under-aged girls from South-Eastern Nigeria to Akure, the Ondo State capital, for prostitution.
According to NSCDC State Commandant, Mr. Ayinla Olayinka, the two traffickers were arrested at a hotel in Akure, where the evil acts were being perpetrated. Ayinla disclosed that the two were in the business of bringing under-aged girls into the state for prostitution in the pretext of engaging them in legitimate work.
The two teenagers - 16 and 17 years respectively – were said to have been brought from Akwa Ibom State and were locked up in different rooms by their managers, who let in on them various men of low esteem to have a fill of their carnal lust for a fee.
Confessing to the crime, Ojeme and her deputy, Mrs. Susan John, said they were only helping the two girls to meet with their needs, adding that they were only “hustling’ to make a living instead of stealing.
Meanwhile, one of the rescued teenagers disclosed to newsmen that five men were having sex with them daily, but that the “rent” was going to their Chairman, Ojeme. Narrating the pathetic story of her bungled search for greener pastures, she said: “We followed a friend to Akure from Ikom, Akwa Ibom State, to Akure on a promise to be working in a supermarket, but we were lured into prostitution on getting here after we had been locked up.
Five or six men would have sex with me every day. For instance, every Friday, six men will sleep with me and N6,000 will be paid to madam, while on Saturdays five men must have sex with me and the money paid to madam.”
Another case of child-trafficking took place last week when 17-year-old Tessy Obianu was nabbed by the Ondo State Command of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) for allegedly selling her baby to a couple in Onitsha, Anambra State, for N500,000.
Her action, according to the police, was influenced by a specialised child-trafficker, a certain Mrs. Chibuzor Okoye, who allegedly convinced her to sell the baby to Mr. and Mrs. Sunday Kalu, who were desperately in need of a baby.
The police command’s image maker, Mr. Femi Joseph, said the agency was tipped off on the crime when Tessy’s father, Mr. Henry Obianu, who lives at Ogbese in Akure, reported that her daughter was missing with her pregnancy.
According to the report, Tessy ran away with her pregnancy in January, 2015 but later re-appeared in May with neither the pregnancy nor the baby. Following investigations in Onitsha, the police arrested the alleged specialist child-trafficker, Okoye, at No.3, Tonny Olisa Street, Awada.
Okoye was alleged to have sold the said baby girl to the couple who lives at No.8, Uzogwu Street, Onitsha, for N500,000, a crime he confessed to, adding that he gave Jude the sum of N200,000 from the said fee, out of which Jude claimed to have bought clothes and shoes for Tessy and also gave her N30,000.
On her part, Mrs. Okoye said she forced Tessy to sign an undertaking that she would never come back for the baby, before the money was given to her.
According to Mr. Adeola Subomi, who works with a charity home in Ondo State, the business is thriving because of young girls who these days run away from their homes to avoid the stigma of unplanned pregnancies outside marriage and having to care for illegitimate children. Therefore, “they stay away from home for some time, deliver their babies and return home with pittance.”
The other side of the coin is the problem of marital infertility, which is driving desperate wives into any venture that could give them babies, at least to save their marriages and breathe some air of fulfillment. Subomi noted: “After long years of marriage, if there is no child, the woman will be so desperate, especially to keep her marriage and also to avoid societal stigma.”
Nevertheless, he advised couples with child-bearing or fertility problems to rather adopt children legally and avoid running foul of the law. Adoption process in most states of the federation, he stated, requires prospective couples to pay prescribed fees upon successful interview with the Director of Social Welfare.