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Hunger, hardship pushed us into selling our children —Frustrated parents

…It’s absurd, inhuman

By Evelyn Usman

One major expectation of most newly weds is to welcome their bundle of joy at least, one year after wedding, as anxiety usually sets in when there is no sign of pregnancy after a year or two of unprotected sex . At this point, parents from both sides start prying on   the cause of the delay.

Woman who sold her baby to purchase a bike

In fact, inability to become a parent can be emotionally and   psychologically traumatic.

For couples who are privileged to have children, labour pains during child delivery is better experienced than described.

One then wonders why a woman who endured the stages of pregnancy and the strong cramping   in the abdomen, groin and back, as well as an achy feeling during child birth , will decide to   sell such baby after delivery.

It is baffling   to note that such parent never considers whether they are selling their babies to those with good intentions for them.

The trade in human existed in prehistoric hunting societies throughout the history of mankind: from slavery , to human trafficking.

But today, sale of vulnerable children is gradually taking the center stage.

While some attempts were botched , with the perpetrators arrested, others however, succeeded in selling their babies     either to childless couples or to hospitals which management in turn sold them out.

3 weeks old baby sold for N70,00

One of the first cases of   child sale was that of a three-week -old baby sold for N70,000 by her biological mother who was a Higher National Diploma student of the Offa Polytechnic , Kwara state , Miss Babatunde, in September 2015. The arrest of the Library and Information Science student alongside the childless couple that bought the baby, was effected by the Lagos State Police Command.

Also arrested was a trado-medical practitioner, Ona Ola, the middle man.   In this case , the middle man was discovered to have actually sold the baby for N136,000 but gave the mother N70,000. The case has since been charged to court.

Enugu state

Same year in Enugu state, a 15-year-old mother, Chinwe, was remanded in prison custody for selling her new -born baby for N70,000. In her case, she was driven away from home after her parents discovered she was pregnant. She admitted before an Enugu East Magistrate court to have sold the baby to a man identified simply as Eze, whom she said took her in when she was driven away from home and cared for her till she put to bed. As at the time the case was being heard in court, Eze and the baby were nowhere to be found.

Grandmother too

A similar incident occurred in Abia state same year . But this time around, it was the arrest of a grandmother , Mrs   Ezi Chukwu, who allegedly sold her grandchild for N150,000.

Her 19-year-old daughter Chinasa , was impregnated while in school. However during delivery at an unregistered   hospital in Osisioma area of the state, the main suspect allegedly connived with a self acclaimed midwife, Martha, who ran the   maternity home. The baby was sold to a welfare officer identified simply as Ngozi, shortly after delivery, whom they claimed they did not know where she lived.

Another form of sale of babies is through unregistered maternity homes, popularly known as baby factory.

The baby factory syndrome is a well organised crime, sometimes with medical doctors involved in running the factory like a legal entity. Sometimes, operators of such factories hide under the cover of orphanage homes and even religious homes. Some parents, bring their babies to be sold, while some ladies were either lured , or forced to the factory , where   men are made to impregnate them willingly or forcefully. After delivery, the ladies get paid while those willing to stay are retained for further reproduction of babies.

One of the reasons attributed to the increase of baby factories   is the stigma associated with teenage and out of wedlock pregnancy in the society . Rather than face the shame, ladies who get pregnant out of wedlock , flee from their homes to the baby factory until they   are delivered of   the babies , sell them and return home, pretending as if nothing had happened.

Most of these baby factories were found in Southern Nigeria , with high incidence in Imo, Akwa-Ibom , Abia, Anambra Ondo and Ogun states.

From a single identified baby factory in 2008 and 2009, the number of identified factories later increased to a total of five in 2013 and eight in 2015.

Precisely in 2008,     a network of baby factories claiming to be orphanages were revealed in Enugu through police raids   and in 2011, police raided two more hospitals and dismantled two baby factories in Aba, Abia state.

A total number of 14 baby factories were discovered in the first nine months of 2016, according to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons , NAPTIP.

Woman who sold baby to buy half bag of rice

In one of such homes in Abia, a teenage girl revealed that she was given N20,000, after her baby was sold.

Following the raids of such places and subsequent arrest of the operators, a new means was devised to keep the business thriving.

A recent discovery was in Ejigbo , a suburb of Lagos , where children suspected to have been brought from different parts of the country were kept in an apartment   for onward sale. But for the swift move by a team of policemen personally led by the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Police Command , Imohimi Edgal , perhaps the children would have increased the number of those sold to unknown persons.

Baby sold in exchange for half bag of rice

During interactions with some parents who were caught on the verge of selling their children, they blamed their actions on   hunger and hardship.

A vivid instance comes to bare with the arrest of   20-year-old lady, Chioma Fidelis , on July 2017, by the Imo State Police Command.  She   was arrested for allegedly selling her two-month-old baby, in exchange for half   bag of rice , three chairs and cement. In addition, she was given N200,000.

She was arrested alongside one of her accomplices identified simply as Chidinmma . During interrogation, the suspect who hails from Ehime Mbano Local Government Area of the state, stated that selling her child was the best option, rather than watch   her starve to death. The couple who bought the child were also arrested and during interrogation, they revealed that N700,000 was paid to the middle man.

.. Another sold to buy motorcycle

Also in July 2017, a 24-year-old woman, Oluchi Emeobi , was arrested by the Police in Anambra for selling   her new born baby for N250,000, an amount she used to buy motorcycle. During interrogation , she confessed to have sold her baby   to a trafficker.

To cover up her track, she had reported to the Police that  her baby had been taken away by a woman she left him in her care.

… Another sold for 250,000 in Lagos

Two months earlier, operatives of the Rapid Respond Squad RRS   of the Lagos State Police Command arrested a 22-year-old   woman for selling her new born baby for N250,00. In the case of this young mother, Oyinyechi Osoneye, her mother was alleged to have concealed the pregnancy from her husband whom they described as being strict. Aside this , the man she claimed impregnated her denied paternity.

Investigation by the Police revealed that during delivery at Peninsula Hospital, Ikota, Lekki – Ajah Expressway, on March 1, 2017 , a midwife identified as Glory allegedly sold the baby to a childless couple for N850,000 but gave Mrs Osoneye and her daughter N250,000.

The baby had since been retrieved from the couple she was sold to   and handed over to the Lagos State Ministry of Women Affairs while five suspects alongside mother of the child,   were transferred to the Gender office of the Lagos State Command , for prosecution .

Twins sold for N350.000

Same year, the Police in Katsina state botched plans by a woman to sell her twin babies for N350,000.

The babies: Hassana (male) and Hussaina (female) were just a month and two days old. In her case, Salima Lawal (30) blamed her action on poverty , revealing that she could barely fend for her three older children , let alone   the additional twins. Out of frustration, she took the babies to one Babangida in Ruwan Godiya village, Faskari Local Government Area of the state , who posed as a buyer, on December 2, 2017. She was said to have insisted on selling the babies for N400,000 , while the buyer bargained for N350,000. It was during the bargain that policemen swopped on her.

Mothers react

Some mothers who spoke on the trend   described it as absurd and inhuman. One of them, Mrs Cordillia Uche, said no mother is justified to sell her child, no matter the condition.

According to her : “ That is the worst treatment that can be meted on an innocent child. There is no   justified reason to sell one’s child. If there was, I would have sold some of my children to be where I am today. I lost my husband when I was barely 30. His demise saddled me with the responsibility of caring for our eight children alone. It was not easy, I must say. But I had no option than to face the challenges. I hawked all round Lagos because I had no money to rent a shop. I sold some of my personal effects   to ensure they went to school. Today to the glory of God, they are all doing well . Had I resorted to selling any of them, the guilt of such action would have hunted me for the rest of my life”

Another woman , Mrs Kofoworole Elembe said : “ God forbid! I will never sell any of my children, no matter the circumstance. Poverty is not a justifiable reason to do so. I will rather sell my self to give my children a better tomorrow than to sell any of them”.

On her part, a single mother in the Lagos State Ministry who gave her name simply as Olabisi said : “ It is so shocking that mothers who allowed themselves to go through the joyful pain of carrying the pregnancy for nine months as well as the rigour of labour will end up selling such child.

On the other hand, outright judgment on their action is not the solution. Government and the society are to blame. First we all know the stigma associated with a lady having a child out of wedlock , in some parts of the country. Such act also goes a long way into determining the level of the person’s understanding and exposure. Relatives   should try and help their family members. Religious leaders are not left out either. They should look inwards and assist families that are in need. That way, you are taking someone’s mind away   from commuting crimes.

Besides , we don’t have a government that is friendly to the masses. It is expected that such person is not meant to only face the legal consequences but be helped out. If someone who is in her right senses attempts to sell his or her child out of hunger, then, it is not the legal justice that is needed at that point.


Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.