The menace of trade in humans especially the sale of babies in Imo State, otherwise known as baby factory, was thought to have been drastically reduced if not completely erased but recent records prove otherwise. From available records, there is a massive resurgence of baby traffickers, suggesting that the operators had only gone underground to escape the heat of security clampdown.
In fact the baby factories have returned under various guises and more sophisticated. To beat security checks and recruit unsuspecting and vulnerable teenagers, the operators have devised fronts under which they carry out the heinous crime without raising any suspicion. The baby factory operators now float orphanages where they hide to recruit, impregnate young girls and lure or coerce them to sell their babies for paltry sums of money ranging from N50, 000.00 to N150, 000.00 depending on the sex.
Between 2011 to 2012 when the baby factory business was booming, not less than 2500 babies were rescued from the traffickers in the Southeast, with Imo State constituting the highest percentage according to the statistics released by the Campaign for Democracy (CD).
Security operatives in the state had already ruled that baby factory has been decimated and as such does not pose security threat anymore. But that is not to be, the evil had grown in leaps and bounds in the last three years after a period of incubation.
Apparently acting under intelligence, the state government recently uncovered 157 Baby Factories during a massive clampdown on the illegal social homes and a large number of children and pregnant teenagers.
The special assistant to the Imo State governor on Non-Governmental Organisations and Allied Matters, Rev. Dr. Simeon Nwulu, said the action became imperative to check the resurgence of Baby factories in the state.
According to the governor’s aide, his office embarked on visitation of the 27 Local Government Areas of the State of the state and found out many social homes, majority of which were operating as fake Non-Governmental Organizations.
In his words, “we’re doing our best to ensure such a thing does not exist in our society anymore. We’ve revoked so many fake homes. Out of 272 homes across the state, only 15 were genuine others are fake. Some of them are registered with the government but their activities are not genuine and we’ve seized their licences. Very soon we will be charging some of them to court over their nefarious activities.
“At the same time, this office has moved to ensure we stop illegal sales of children because the rate at which children are being marketed and sold like ordinary articles of trade is very alarming. At a peanut, the destiny of a child is destroyed and most of these adopters are not well-to-do to take care of these children”.
He advised Churches within the state to get deeply involved in building motherless babies homes and old people’s homes and encourage well-to-do individuals in the society to adopt such children.
“If somebody becomes motherless, it does not mean that such a child cannot be somebody in the future.
“I’m glad some churches have shown interest to partner with government on that. Some of them have picked the forms to establish social homes. But we’re asking them to make the environment very conducive for the children and not to use it and make money because we know that nobody can take care of the children more than the church.
“We’re going house-to house appealing to people to adopt these children because we have over 2000 motherless children in different homes whose future seem very bleak without hope. As someone God has blessed, even if you have 10 children, please try and give these ones’ life and hope”, he appealed.
He also disclosed that his office was working hard to ensure NGOs such as churches start fulfilling their mandate such as building institutions to help the needy and the poor.
“The bedrock of every NGO is the church. Unfortunately, the present day church is not like the former church. The present day church is no longer involved in humanitarian or spiritual activities, but materialism and flamboyance.
“Before now, churches built schools and it was free of charge for people. Churches used to take care of the welfare of the needy, but today schools owned by churches are the most expensive in the country, the same as their hospitals. In fact, everything that belongs to the church is for the rich and not the poor and needy.
“We want to ensure that churches start building hospitals. If you look around, churches are no longer building hospitals. They are only building schools that will get them quick money. So, we’re asking churches to start building hospitals to complement the effort of the state government. The government is ready to assist them to equip the hospitals so that they will be for the benefit of our people. That is what churches used to do in the past”.
The governor’s aide stated that another issue his office was battling was to “ensure that NGOs partner with us to see how we can resuscitate the mentally-deranged people in our society, premature births or births out of wedlock.
“In our society, if a young lady conceives out of wedlock, it becomes a taboo and seems that such a girl her hope is lost. Today, we’re saying that such girls their hopes are not lost, it’s a mistake. If a car breaks down along the way, it does not mean, the car will no longer function. The car will still get to its destination. If a young girl gets an unwanted pregnancy, it does not mean she cannot be somebody again. She needs to be encouraged from the church, communities and even the government. This is one of our jobs”.
He said to curb such situations, the state government had fashioned out skills acquisition programmes for all those concerned to ensure that such girls were empowered with skills and funds to live a normal life again.
But the State Police Command maintained that there has not been any report about baby factory or baby trafficking in the state lately.
The State Police Public Relations Officer, Andrew Enwerem, a deputy superintendent of police, said that baby factory has been greatly decimated in the state.
He said, “Baby trafficking is one of the crimes that have been dealt a terrible blow in Imo Command and there has not been any report of Baby Factory or trafficking in recent times. Anybody with any report in that regard should come forward”.