Saturday, 4 August 2012

Soldiers raid baby factory in Aba

Aba One year after a child trafficking outfit was discovered in the area, the Umungasi axis of the commercial city of Aba in Abia State, is in the news again and for the same reason. This time, another child welfare home in the area, the Seat of Comfort Motherless Babies Home, belonging to one Deborah, has been raided for alleged involvement in child trafficking. It was gathered that the raid of the home located at No 7, Amaefula Street, by soldiers from the 144 Battalion, followed a failed deal between Deborah and a young mother, Chidinma, who had her baby out of wedlock.

Desperate to raise funds for the treatment of her sick mother and only brother, Chidinma, a native of Mgbo in Ebonyi State, was said to have confided in a friend that she was ready to sell her three-month-old boy. Consequently, her friend took her to the Seat of Comfort Motherless Babies Home where she struck a deal with Deborah who allegedly assured her that she was free to visit her baby whenever she wished. Thereafter, Chidinma was given N300, 000 while her friend received N200, 000 for connecting the business. But barely one week later, Chidinma’s mother died and shortly after the burial, she called the home to notify them that she was coming to see her son.

To her utter dismay, the orphanage’s management told her that the planned visit was not necessary, as she would no longer see the child. Sensing that her baby might have been sold, she went to the Forward Operation Base (FOB) of the Nigerian Army in Aba, and complained to the officer-in-charge, Captain Chris Nwogu, who immediately sent soldiers to the home. During the raid, the soldiers arrested three pregnant girls and recovered six babies. Confirming the raid, Captain Nwogu said the girl reported that she and her friend received N300, 000 and N200, 000 respectively and that she gave out the child in the hope that she would have access to him as agreed. Nwogu said that the owner of the home escaped before his men gained access into the orphanage because the workers refused to open the gate.

The army officer alleged that the three pregnant girls arrested at the orphanage had been contracted by fleeing Deborah to deliver their babies for her. Also arrested, were two girls who identified themselves as employees of the orphanage. Captain Nwogu said that six children including a three-day-old baby, and three others said to be from Akwa Ibom and Cross River States, were rescued. He advised the founder of the home to make herself available for interrogation adding that those arrested were handed over to the State Security Service (SSS) for further investigation and the children given to the Department of Social Welfare till their rightful parents are found.

Some of the arrested girls who spoke to Sunday Sun said that the men who impregnated them denied responsibility and their friends introduced them to the proprietress of the home who offered to take care of them and pay them off when they are delivered of their babies. Chidinma told Sunday Sun: “I sold the baby last week Monday, for N300, 000 and on Friday, my mother died, so I used part of the amount I was paid to bury her and when I came back to see my boy as we agreed, they refused.” Another girl identified as MaryAnn, from Item in Bende Local Government Area of Abia State, was said to have delivered a baby girl a day before the soldiers struck.

However, the baby was taken away immediately after delivery and the mother had not been paid. It was gathered that Deborah had been in the business for many years, and was arrested by the police last year, but was later released. In May, 2011, the police in Aba swooped on Cross Foundation Investment ‘Heda Clinic’ located in the same area, and arrested the owner who was later described as an unrepentant child trafficker. The medical doctor was accused of luring girls of school age who got pregnant and were paid off after delivery in his clinic. During the raid, 32 pregnant girls from 18 to 22 years of age were arrested

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