At a baby factory in Abia State, the owner buys a baby boy for N100, 000 and a baby girl for N80, 000, which she sells to interested buyers at N450, 000 and N400, 000 respectively.
Ihugwe is an isolated community in Umuozuo, Osisioma Local Government Area of Abia State, but it is well known to clients interesting in buying new born babies for various reasons. And when the men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NCSDC) in Abia busted the facility last week, 32 pregnant teenagers were rescued, while the proprietor and two others were arrested.
Most of the teenagers rescued, Weekly Trust heard from sources, were girls kicked out by their parents after becoming pregnant out of wedlock. The owner of the house will accept such girls, take care of them for the entire duration of their pregnancy and enter into an agreement to sell the babies after giving birth to them. It was also learnt that after giving birth, those interested can remain behind and be made pregnant again.
After giving birth, the teenagers will be paid N100, 000, for a baby boy and N80, 000 for a baby girl by the proprietor who will sell the babies to interested clients. "The owner of the maternity home sells a baby boy for N450, 000, and a girl for N400, 000," the Public Relations Officer of NSCDC in Abia State, Victor Ogbonna, told Weekly Trust.
He said although the home is registered with the state government, the owner hides under the guise to commit all sorts of illegality.
Weekly Trust learnt that the home was commissioned last December by the proprietor Mrs. Nnenna Mba, with the help of her police-husband Agbai Mba as well as one Chinwoke Mba.
One of the teenage girls seen at the entrance of the building told Weekly Trust that "Our madam (Mrs. Mba) is detained in Umuahia by men of Civil Defence. She is innocent as she only assisting childless couples from Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt by selling male and female babies at an agreed fee, thus she settles the mother of the baby and takes the balance of the money."
She claimed that her madam would soon be released by the security agent as this is not the first time she has been arrested. "They would release her to continue her service," she said.
According to her, "visitors are not allowed into this building. Only clients who come for business or teenage girls who desire to sell their babies to prospective buyers are welcome," she exclaimed.
A villager who refused to give her name said in December the proprietor was arrested by security agents, but the police-husband ensured her prompt bail. According to her, "that madam, the husband is a police officer from Bende Local Government Area. He has contacts with various security agents who whenever she is arrested the husband would move in and effect her bail. Elders of the community have written to the security agencies informing them of the illicit business going on in this our community.
The proprietor is not from our community, but she bought the land from one Chukwdi Ezu, an indigene. When we complained, her landlord wanted to evict her, but she got some elders to intervene on her behalf.
"With the latest development, we are watching how they would do man-know-man with her police-husband and secure her bail as usual. After all, she has been taken to Abuja on several occasions only for her to come back and continue her business," she explained.
The traditional ruler of Ahiaba-Alaocha Autonomous Community, His Royal Highness, Eze Christopher Chukwudi Otuka, in his Ikearo palace, explained that "as I speak to you, I have never gone to that orphanage, but I do know that it does exist in Umuozuo. Her area where the orphanage is located is not within my jurisdiction. It is under the jurisdiction of another monarch.
"I learnt that last year she was arrested by security agents. I could only recall that sometime last year the proprietor invited her land-lord.
He confirmed to me that she was arrested over child trafficking offence and was taken to Abuja for questioning, from my calculation this is her third arrest.
"When the proprietor visited my palace with her landlord (Chukwudi), she invited me to the official commissioning of the orphanage. She said she wants to commission it for officials of Ministry of Health to inspect. She was regularly raided by security agencies for not having legal backing to operate the centre. Since I got my staff of office I have never visited the centre, because of the illegality and several complaints brought against the centre," he added.
When Weekly Trust asked why the monarch has not written to the state government informing them of the development, he said "The Police-husband collaborates with the local security known as Abia State vigilante service alias Bakassi who give the place cover from unsuspecting villagers. So everybody was scared. Since the Bakassi security operatives are always there in the compound, who else would you report to? I believe there is a serious cartel going on with all and sundry in that orphanage home," the monarch noted.
The Public Relations Officer of NSCDC in Abia State, Victor Ogbonna, said "intelligence gathering by the NSCDC indicates that victims were induced to sell a baby-boy for N100, 000 while a baby girl goes for N80,000. More investigation conducted shows that the suspect thereafter resells a baby-boy for N450,000 and a baby-girl for N400,000," Ogbonna said.
He said despite the fact that the home is registered with the state government, the suspect hid under the guise to commit all sorts of illegality.
Officials of the Ministry of Women and Social Development could not be reached to obtain their reactions on the matter.
The Abia State Police Command, through its spokesman Ali Okechukwu, said the NSCDC has not officially written to them to say that a policeman was among those arrested at the maternity home and that they can only respond when they are officially notified.
Mr. Martins Idika, the Commander-General, Abia State Vigilance Service, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the unit commander at Osisioma reported case of the arrest of one worker on duty by the officials of NSCDC on April 3.
Idika said the matter would be adequately looked into to ascertain if there was any complicity by the worker.