By CHIDI NKWOPARA, OWERRI
RECENT developments in Imo State seem to suggest that commercial pregnancy has become the next big business with baby factories springing up surreptitiously in certain parts of the state. For instance, barely one week after the Imo State Government summarily revoked the licences earlier issued to foster homes and motherless babies homes, the State Police Command has rescued 16 pregnant teenage girls in Ezuma Private Hospital, a private medical establishment located in the outskirts of Egbu, Owerri North local council area of the state.
Our correspondent, who was among the journalists that accompanied the Imo State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Mohammed Katsina, to the hospital recalls that 10 exotic cars, out of which four were Sports Utility Vehicles, SUV, belonging to the owner of the facility, were found in the hospital premises.
Vanguard Metro, VM, observed that inside the large hospital compound which is secured by a high perimeter fence included a duplex and a five-bedroom boys quarters, both at varying stages of completion.
The absence of hospital equipment and medical personnel in the two buildings cast serious doubts that the compound was indeed a health facility. The duplex was occupied by the owner of the compound but anxious journalists, who made efforts to catch a glimpse of the decrepit rooms where the girls were kept, were discouraged by the stench oozing out from the environment.
The 16 pregnant girls, who came from various states in the South East and South-South geo-political zones of the country, were crammed into two rooms that were ready for occupation in the uncompleted boys’ quarters, awaiting delivery. Nineteen-year-old Chinaza Nnachi, an inmate from Ebonyi State, wept uncontrollably as she tried to narrate her sordid experience. “I got pregnant and the guy that impregnated me denied it. I decided not to abort the baby. Someone directed me to Ezuma Private Hospital. When I got there, the doctor told me that the baby would be kept for me after delivery,” Chinaza recounted amidst sobs.
Continuing, the youngster said that the doctor assured that her baby would be properly taken care of by the hospital management, adding that she never knew the baby would be sold. “I gave birth to my bouncing baby girl on November 24, 2013. The baby was sold. I do not know how much the baby was sold but I was promised N100,000,” Miss Nnachi said.
On why she was weeping, the girl said she has belatedly realised that the hospital management didn’t take care of the baby as they promised, pointing out that “they rather sold it sold it out to somebody they do not even know”.
The owner of the establishment, James Ezuma from Arondizuogu, Ideato North Local Government Area of the state, claimed he is a medical doctor with over 30 years cognate experience.
Although he was incoherent while fielding questions from journalists, Ezuma explained that the missing baby was given out for adoption, as he runs an organisation that caters for young pregnant mothers.
“The baby is now traced to Ozomagana Street, Onitsha. The Social Welfare Office collected the baby from Aba. The foster parents are in Onitsha and we are closing in on them,” Ezuma said.
The doctor further said he runs a licensed non-governmental organisation for homeless peoples, stressing that when these children take-in, their parents throw them out and their boyfriends deny them.
“When this happens, they become homeless and my NGO caters for homeless persons”, the doctor insisted.
The spirited efforts made by the suspect did not go down well with the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Mohammed Katsina, who quickly told journalists that the man was being largely economical with the true state of affairs. “He was once arrested for gun running and was charged to court. This matter is still pending in court, only for the State Police Command to discover this illegal baby factory. The teenage mother is crying and asking for her baby,” Katsina said.
The Imo police boss equally fumed over claims by the self-professed medical doctor “that he runs an orphanage or whatever he calls it, have been unable to tell us where he kept the baby”, adding
“Look at the entire place. There is no equipment in this place. There is no nurse working in this so- called hospital. Look at where he housed these innocent girls. It is filthy and uninhabitable. There is no fan in the room, no air condition. This is sinful”.
He drew the attention to the exotic cars parked in the large premises and said: “The police will definitely investigate who owns the cars and the fellow who acquired them. The suspect has not been able to provide documents for the exotic cars, which shows he acquired the vehicles through illegitimate means. The earlier this man told the truth, the better for us”.
The Commissioner recalled that the suspect had earlier taken his men to Aba, Abia State, where the suspect claimed the now missing was moved to but on getting to the place, the baby could not be found.
VM equally recalls that an eight-round pump action rifle was recovered from the suspect, which he claimed he was licensed to acquire.