– A Thomson Reuters Foundation investigative team reports on the booming illicit baby trafficking business thriving in the eastern part of Nigeria
– Campaigners against baby trafficking say the sale of newborns is widespread, noting that the illegal trade is becoming more prevalent with Nigeria into recession
– NAPTIP says record numbers of baby factories were raided or closed down in the southeastern states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo this year
A Thomson Reuters Foundation investigative team has uncovered details showing how new born babies are sold for as low as 20,000 naira in eastern part of Nigeria.
Vanguard, citing the discoveries by the foundation reports on the booming baby trafficking business in the eastern part of the country.
One of the victims, 16-year-old Maria, narrated her ordeal at the hand of human traffickers minutes after the birth of her baby.
“The nurse took my baby away to be washed. She never brought her back,” the teenager said, gazing down at her feet.
According to Maria, she learned her newborn daughter had been given up for adoption for which she received 20,000 naira ($65.79) – the same price as a 50 kilogram bag of rice.
Maria said in the home in Imo state where she gave birth pregnant teenagers were welcomed by a maternal nurse who liked to be called “mama” but went on to sell the babies they delivered.
“(After I gave birth) somebody told me that mama collected big money from people before giving them other people’s babies.” Maria told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in the grounds of a school compound in her village.
“I do not know where my baby is now,” said Maria, using a false name for her own protection.
Ten other women who were interviewed by the Thomson Reuters Foundation investigative team also narrated how they were duped into giving up their newborns to strangers in houses known as “baby factories” in the past two years or offered babies whose origins were unknown.
Five women did not want to be interviewed, despite the guarantee of anonymity, fearing for their own safety with criminal gangs involved in the baby trade, while two men spoke of being paid to act as “studs” to get women pregnant.
Campaigners against baby trafficking say the sale of newborns is widespread, noting that the illegal trade is becoming more prevalent with Nigeria into recession this year amid ongoing political turbulence.
“The government is too overstretched by other issues to focus on baby trafficking,” said Arinze Orakwue, head of public enlightenment at the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).
NAPTIP said record numbers of baby factories were raided or closed down in the southeastern states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo this year.
A total of 14 were discovered in the first nine months of 2016, up from six in 2015 and 10 in 2014, the data showed.
But the growing number of raids, the scam exploiting couples desperate for a baby and young, pregnant, single women continues with newborns sold for up to $5,000 in Africa’s most populous nation where most people live on less than $2 a day. See full details of the illicit baby trafficking business.