More facts emerged at the weekend about the booming babies trade in Imo State. Government officials aid and abet the trade, otherwise known as baby factory, sources said.
According to the sources, who pleaded not to be named, these officials, especially of the Ministry of Women Affairs and Child Development, which is responsible for child adoptions, act as middlemen between baby factories’ operators and buyers.
This development may have informed Governor Rochas Okorocha’s directive that all child adoptions will henceforth be approved by his office.
According to a source, whose aunty was assisted to adopt a three-year-old boy, the group charges as much as N350,000.00 for adoption of a male child. “When you meet them they will collect the fee upfront and give you a date to come and take the child but they won’t let you into their source of supply,” he told The Nation.
It was also gathered that the officials are aware of all existing baby factories which allegedly give them an undisclosed number of children annually to stay in operation.
“The business is run by a strong syndicate, especially at the ministry under which they hide to perpetrate the heinous crime. They often buy the children direct from the owners of the illegal motherless babies homes and sell to their teeming customers,” the source added.
Corroborating this claim, one of the expectant teenagers rescued from a baby factory in Umuaka, Njaba Council Area, by the Imo State Police Command, Ogachi Chibue, 22, from Nwkerre Local Government Area, said: “Once we deliver our babies, some people will come here to take the babies away. If we ask, they will tell us they are government people.”
Ogachi, who is about five months pregnant, had two other kids between ages three and four, who she said were to be taken by some government officials before they were rescued by the police. She looked pale.
“I don’t know the man that brought me to this place. When we arrived, I was told that they will settle me after delivery but they did not tell me how much they were going to pay me,” she said.
Another teenager who was among the rescued girls, Chiamaka Akubuiru, 22, from Agba in Oguta Local Government Area, said: “I saw where they wrote Motherless Babies Home and I decided to go there because I was pregnant and I felt that I would receive medical care there.
“They told me that after delivery, government officials would come to take the baby away .”
Commissioner for Women Affairs and Child Development, Mrs. Ann Dozie, who confirmed that the pregnant teenagers had been handed over to her Ministry by the Police, denied any knowledge of illegal child adoption going on in the ministry or any other place.
According to her, child, adoptions are strictly procedural and follow court proceedings, which perfect such adoptions. “I don’t move about the state to know who is adopting children illegally, but in my ministry, we follow laid down proceedings in child adoption. But, if anyone is doing anything behind my back, that, I do not know,” she said.
Oyibo, whose real name is Chukwubuka Onyemefule, from Umuaka, Njaba Local Government Area, who earlier confessed to impregnating the 26 teenagers, told our correspondent that he was framed up by the police.
The Police paraded the 23-year old for allegedly being contracted by the owner of the home, Madam One Thousand, to impregnate the girls.
But, in an interview with The Nation, Onyemefule said: “I was working in the pure water section of the hospital before the police came to pick us. I only stayed there for three weeks.