ExPOSED: Babies Sells For N20K In Eastern Nigeria(Photo)


Physinews: As 16-year-old Maria strained under the
anguish of labor in eastern Nigeria, a midwife
repeatedly slapped her across the face – but
the real ordeal began minutes after the birth of
her baby. Baby sells for same price as 50kg of
rice in eastern Nigeria. Reuters Photo “The
nurse took my baby away to be washed. She
never brought her back,” the teenager said,
gazing down at her feet.
Maria said 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. And Maria is far from alone.

A Thomson Reuters Foundation investigative
team spoke to more than 10 Nigerian women
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. Although statistics are
hard to come by, campaigners say the sale of
newborns is widespread – and they fear 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).
Record numbers of baby factories were raided
or closed down in the southeastern states of
Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi in Nigeria, Enugu and Imo this
year, NAPTIP said. 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. Despite 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.
Cultural barriers are also a factor in the West
African nation, with teenage girls fearing they
will be publicly shamed by strict fathers or
partners over unwanted pregnancies if they do
not give up their children, experts say. “In
southeastern Nigeria a woman is deemed a
failure if she fails to conceive. But it is also
taboo for a teenager to fall pregnant out of
wedlock,” said Orakwue. 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. A lot of the trade
is carried out in Nigeria but authorities suspect
babies are also sold to people from Europe and
the United States because many foreigners
continue to seek infants there despite the
controversy around Nigerian adoptions.

The U.S. Department of State alerted
prospective adoptive parents to the issue of
child buying from Nigeria in June 2014 after
Nigerian media warned that people were posing
as owners of orphanages or homes for unwed
mothers to make money. “The State
Department is aware of a growing number of
adoption scams,” an alert on its website read.
Over 1,600 children have been adopted from
Nigeria by U.S. citizens since 1999, according
to the State Department website, about a third
of them aged between one and two years old. A
U.S. official said the State Department
facilitates contact between foreign officials and
U.S. authorities when foreign governments
raise any concerns regarding the welfare of an
adopted child. “To date, we are not aware of
any concerns regarding the welfare of a child
adopted from Nigeria,” a State Department
official told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in
a statement. In Britain a couple was found by
the High Court to have “fallen under the spell” of
an elaborate fraud after paying 4,500 pounds
($5,600) for herbal treatment in Nigeria that
caused the woman’s stomach to swell, media
reported in 2014.
The couple only realized they had been duped
nine months later when presented with a baby
in Nigeria that actually was not theirs, the Daily
Mail newspaper reported. Babies, whose
biological parents or backgrounds are
unknown, are offered to women who have not
been able to conceive naturally, according to
NAPTIP and interviews with three women. The
British government said it was committed to
stamping out what it calls the “miracle babies”
phenomenon. “Specially-trained teams are
working at the UK border to identify and
safeguard babies and children who may be at
risk of trafficking,” said a spokesman for the
Home Office (UK interior ministry) in a
statement. Denmark suspended adoptions from
Nigeria in 2014 citing concerns over forgery,
corruption and lack of control by the
authorities. Apart from the illicit trade in babies,
Nigeria also faces the problem of domestic and
international trafficking in women and children.
Human trafficking, including selling children, is
illegal in Nigeria, but almost 10 years ago a
UNESCO report identified the industry as the
country’s third most common crime after
financial fraud and drug trafficking – and the
situation appears to be getting worse,
according to campaigners. The Nigerian
government has not ratified an internationally
recognized set of rules known as the Hague
Adoption Convention which meant the laws
governing adoptions remain murky and
complicated, campaigners said. “There is
corruption in the adoption process and that is
the individual (Nigerian) states’ responsibility,”
said NAPTIP’s Orakwue in a phone interview
“But central government should step up its
funding to NAPTIP so we can increase support
to victims,” Orakwue said.

Sophie, who was not able to conceive, told the
Thomson Reuters Foundation she started to
develop the symptoms of pregnancy after
visiting a herbalist in Enugu state in 2014.
However the traditional doctor told Sophie her
swollen stomach contained gas resulting from
the herbal treatment rather than a fetus – but
she could arrange to buy a baby. “(The
herbalist) said that she would bring me a
newborn baby, girl or boy, depending on which
one I wanted,” she said in the grimy sitting
room of her apartment in southeastern Nigeria.
The woman said a girl would cost 380,000
naira ($1,250) while a boy would cost 500,000
naira ($1,645), said Sophie who opted for a
girl. But a sense of obligation to the woman
who brought her a child prevented her from
reporting the crime, she told the Thomson
Reuters Foundation. “I considered everything
and thought to myself ‘why should I report (the
herbalist) to the police?’ She had helped me,”
she said. NAPTIP does not have data on the
number of domestic adoptions that have taken
place, a figure it says is not held by central
government. “In the southeastern states, the
sale of babies is unarguably very prevalent as
recorded by the agency,” said Cordelia Ebiringa,
NAPTIP’s commander in Enugu state . DEADLY
GAME Men are also involved in the process of
illicit baby trafficking, with sperm donors
impregnating surrogate mothers who then sell
their babies, according to two Nigerian men.
Surrogacy is illegal in Nigeria.
Jonathan, 33, said he was paid 25,000 naira
($82) by his boss or “madam” every time he
helped a client to become pregnant. “I don’t
see it as somebody exploiting me. The
madams pay me for my work,” said Jonathan,
who withheld his full name. Jonathan said he
did not know whether the women gave their
babies away or went on to sell them although
he was concerned what he was doing could be
illegal. “I often think ‘what if the police catch
me?’” Nigeria’s anti-human trafficking agency
said it did not have data or information on the
role of sperm donors, but many women they
spoke to did not want to reveal how they fell
pregnant. “NAPTIP has no records of studs that
impregnate the women at the baby factories as
most of the pregnant women rescued and
interviewed in such cases claimed unplanned
pregnancies,” said Ebiringa. Little information
was made available by the Nigerian police or
authorities in southeastern states about the
number or identity of the people who run the
“baby factories”. No data was provided on the
number of arrests by police in southern states
of Enugu and Abia on baby trafficking offences
despite repeated requests by the Thomson
Reuters Foundation. But the dangers involved,
both from the law and from trafficking gangs,
are palpable, according to Jonathan, who
estimates he has fathered about 15 children as
a “stud”. “These (baby traffickers) can be
dangerous,” said Jonathan, who was once
threatened by a group of thugs who found out
what he was doing. “They are ready to kill
anybody if you stand in their way.”


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