LAGOS – Nigerian police said Saturday they had raided a home near Lagos where eight pregnant girls were staying with plans to sell each of their newborns for nearly two thousand dollars.
“Following intelligence report, we discovered and stormed on Friday a baby factory in Akute district of Ogun state,” a police spokesman, Abimbola Oyeyemi, told AFP.
In the home they found the suspected operator and eight pregnant girls, most of them under the age of 20, he said.
It is the latest discovery of a so-called ‘baby factory’ and the first known case in southwest Nigeria.
The Guardian newspaper in Lagos published on its front page Saturday a picture of the eight girls, showing their protruding bellies.
“The girls confessed that each newborn child will be sold for 300,000 naira ($1,800/1,300 euros),” Oyeyemi said, adding that the suspects will be charged in court with crimes at the end of the current investigations.
Friday’s raid brings to about 125 the number of girls the police have rescued since 2011 in ‘baby factories’, most of which were located in southeastern states of the country.
Southeast Nigeria is grappling with a human trafficking epidemic, with a series of black market maternity homes discovered in the last two years.
In most cases, young women have run to such homes to avoid the stigma attached to pregnancies conceived outside marriage.
They take a portion of the money earned from selling the baby.
The buyers are most often couples who have been unable to conceive and male children typically earn a much higher price than baby girls.
Human trafficking is widespread in West Africa, where children are bought from their families to work in plantations, mines and factories or as domestic help.
Others are sold into prostitution, and less commonly they are tortured or sacrificed in black magic rituals.