By FRANCIS Ewherido
A few weeks ago, yet another illegal baby-making factory was discovered in Akute, Ogun State. Eight pregnant girls, among them three under-aged girls, were found. What started as a hush-hush affair has become a monumental national embarrassment and huge moral burden.
The first time I heard about it was about 12 years ago when a couple threw a lavish party to celebrate the arrival of their twins. I overheard loud and foul-mouthed politicians, who thronged the ceremony in droves, saying that the babies were Port Harcourt babies. Being a JJC, I did not understand and asked what Port Harcourt babies meant. I was then told that there is somewhere around the Garden City where childless couples go to purchase babies.
Babies have become products manufactured in factories for sale. The proliferation of baby-making factories is minimally caused by poverty or unemployment; it is fuelled by greed, desperation and dead consciences. I cannot recall any time in the past when humanity got so degraded and became a commodity for monetary reward. Not even the slave trade compares to this odious act. Must we denominate all aspects of our lives in naira and kobo? There is something fundamentally wrong with our value orientation, and our moral fabric, as a people, is in tatters. As many others have observed, how come churches and mosques are springing up everywhere, yet evil is growing in geometric progression? It just does not add up.
What exactly is behind this malady? According to the Imo State Police Commissioner, Mr. Mohammed Musa Katsina, I can authoritatively tell you that some of them are used for rituals. Some of them are prepared for export.I must tell you that there are some(people) who are naturally barren and need babies but are always ashamed to go through the legal protocol to adopt.
I have heard stories of people being used for money rituals (usigho) since I was young. In fact, a cousin almost became a victim in the 70s. So ritual killing for money is not new to me, but please excuse my naivety as I ask these questions: After you have made this evil money, will it keep you alive forever? Will you use it to bribe God to throw open the gate of heaven for you and your likes? Can it buy permanent good health? Will you stay young forever and be spared the challenges of old age? Will your life become problem-free? Will it buy you permanent happiness?
If it’s true that politicians buy babies for rituals to win elections, will it make executives who are constitutionally barred after two terms get a third term? If you are in the legislature and can contest multiple times, will it not come to an end someday? I hope some of these victories that are celebrated in churches with thanksgiving services were not achieved with the slaughter of innocent and defenceless children? God have mercy.
The other reason the police commissioner gave for this ugly trend are childless couples who want babies. That in itself is not a problem, but some people are so steep in illegality that they do not want to legally adopt. Some couples want to deceive themselves, the rest of us and God; I guess, that the children are biologically theirs. What a shame! Even a lawyer, Mrs.Julia Ngala Norgu, who should know better, was arrested last year by men of the Cross River State Command of the Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, for allegedly being in possession of a one-week-old baby girl. A thorough investigation revealed that Norgu, a Cameroonian, was never pregnant.
The illegal business(?) has become so lucrative that civil servants, doctors, nurses and other medical personnel are involved, also pastors, couples, grandparents, etc. Even Geoffrey Okoli, a 54-year-old blind graduate, saw the enormous opportunities and got involved.
Some questions are bothering me. Who and where are the parents of these girls, especially the under-aged? Did they ever report the disappearance of these girls or they actually sent their own blood on this morally-suicidal mission? What drives these young men impregnating these girls? Lure of quick money or a kick from having multiple sex partners or the free sex? No, not free sex because they are actually paid. Do they realize that they are distributing their offspring round the world to complete strangers and for unwholesome purposes? What happened to these young consciences? What kinds of families breed these young men and women?
In one of the cases the report said the son of the couple who run the illegal baby-making factory is among the young men impregnating the girls. To keep more money within and increase profit, the parents have recruited their own son. So they are in fact, selling their own grand children. Even in illegality, should there come a time when people draw a line? This is sad, very depressing.
The pain and shame of this tragedy is too much. This is one battle we must all fight and win. We must become vigilant of what happens around us and community policing must be intensified. By the way what has become of all the people who were arrested? Our law enforcement agents must exhibit the highest sense of professionalism and incorruptibility in this matter. The national assembly also should rush through a bill prescribing very stiff penalties for these people who have brought this evil to our land. This is without prejudice to existing laws. This baby doom must stop.