Mothers Selling Their Babies – Where is The Love?
When pain and sickness made me cry who gazed upon my heavy eye and wept for fear that I should die…My mother. This is one of the lines of a popular nursery rhyme portraying the infinite love and bond between mother and child such that some mothers are willing to give up their lives for their children in trouble or disaster situations, but with the growing trend these days of mothers wilfully selling their children to buyers whose intent are glaringly sinister one wonders what has become of their maternal love and instinct.
The print and broadcast media and much of cyberspace last month were awash with the story of the police raid of a suspected baby factory in Aba, Abia State, where 32 pregnant teenage girls, who were reportedly forced to have babies in a baby-selling business under the watch of Dr. Hyacinth Orikara of the Cross Foundation ‘Heda Clinic’, were arrested along with him. These babies were allegedly offered for sale for ritual, trafficking and other purposes.
According to Abia State Police Commissioner, Bala Hassan, the police stormed the premises of the Cross Foundation in Aba following a tip off that pregnant girls aged between 15 and 17 are being made to make babies for the proprietor.
He said, “We rescued 32 pregnant girls and arrested the proprietor who is undergoing interrogation over allegations that he normally sells the babies to people who may use them for rituals or other purposes.”
Some of the girls told police they had been offered to sell their babies for between 25,000 and 30,000 naira depending on the sex of the baby.
The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) said the babies would then be sold to buyers for anything from 300,000 naira to one million naira each depending on the sex. Teenagers with unplanned pregnancies are sometimes lured to clinics and then forced to hand over their babies.
Hassan said the owner of the “illegal baby factory” is likely to face child abuse and human trafficking charges. Buying or selling of babies is illegal in Nigeria and can carry a 14-year jail term.
Raids by the police in 2008, showed an alleged network of such clinics, popularly called baby “farms” or “factories” .
This was the second such arrest for Dr. Orikara who claims that his clinic is an adoption agency where girls with unwanted pregnancies receive help and the children get new parents. But sources described the clinic as a link in a human-trafficking ring with infants being “farmed” and sold. He was said to have started the business in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, before relocating to Aba after a botched prosecution following an earlier trial for similar crime.