By Ebele Orakpo
The weather was cool this Thursday evening as it had rained for hours in some areas of the Lagos metropolis while other areas were bone dry as usual and commuters were bracing up for the notorious gridlock which gets worse when it rains.
They were not unduly perturbed because though the homeward journey was going to be long but the weather was cool. Then along came a newspaper vendor displaying an evening paper with the headline: â€œLagos Shuts Baby Factory: Woman, 84, Arrested For Selling Babiesâ€. All eyes were drawn to the paper and a commuter, Iyke, bought a copy to read.
â€œWonders will never cease in Nigeria. Abracadabra, the more you look, the less you see. That has been our experience in this part of the globe,â€ commented Iyke.
â€œO boy, read it out loud please,â€ a number of commuters pleaded with Iyke who said tongue-in-cheek: â€œYou guys should not disturb me. After all you saw the vendor or do you think the papers are for decoration? They are for sale, so go and buy your own,â€ thereupon he began to read the story aloud to the hearing of all.
â€œThis is insane! How can an old woman who is close to her grave and should be making peace with God turn something meant to be a blessing into a curse? Was the orphanage home registered by government?â€ Femi wanted to know.
â€œYes, the report said she was granted license by the state government some years ago to operate the orphanage,â€ Iyke replied, adding: â€œBut trust our people to exploit every loophole. The 84-year-old woman built an unapproved maternity centre where babies are delivered and also a school in the same place.â€
â€œWait a minute, where were the government agencies in charge of all these things all the while? They just issue licence and no follow up and that gives people the chance to do whatever they want,â€ noted Jossie. â€œI believe they would have discovered these atrocities if they had been up and doing. I hate the lackadaisical attitude of the average civil servant. Nobody cares.
I shudder to think about the fate of those unfortunate kids that had been sold, maybe to ritualists.â€
â€œMoney is everything in this part of the world so people go to any length to make it. My question is, how was she getting those pregnant girls to deliver and sell their babies to her?â€ asked TJ.
â€œThey may be young ladies who got pregnant and were afraid to go home to face their parents; so such people are grateful to whoever will take care of them and keep the baby at the end of the day so they could go on with their lives,â€ answered Ify.
â€œIt is possible that she recruits young boys and girls and pay them peanuts for the purpose of breeding babies for her. Much the same way you breed animals for sale, like what happened during the slave trade. Itâ€™s just so sad how low we have sunk,â€ lamented Eunice.
â€œAll these are possible because of the â€˜I donâ€™t careâ€™ attitude of our leaders who are busy stealing and stashing our money in foreign banks while we are here suffering. Young people are ready to do anything to keep body and soul together. So unscrupulous elements in the society exploit these loopholes,â€ said Kate.
â€œThis is not the first time such a thing would be happening. Some years ago, it was one orphanage home somewhere in Isolo, Lagos State which was shut down and the operators arrested. Nobody knows what became of them. I hope the ministry concerned would henceforth live up to its responsibilities and government should provide them with all they need to discharge their duties creditably,â€ counselled Ken.
â€œThe public should also be at alert. If they see such evil going on in their environment, they should alert the security agencies or the relevant arm of government as it happened in this case. This evil must stop,â€ said Iyke.
â€œThe woman said she only gives out babies who were not wanted by their mothers, and that she never asked the prospective adoptive parents to pay but asks for donations of between N100,000 and N200,000. So what do you call that?â€ asked Zuby.
â€œItâ€™s wickedness, pure and simple, no other name for it.,â€ replied Ken.