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The heinous trade in babies


The heinous trade in babies
By Sun News Publishing
Friday, June 20, 2008
Editorial Index
The recent arrest of a medical doctor identified as Kenneth Akunne in Enugu, for child breeding for sale, is an embarrassing dimension to the increasing reports of trafficking in babies and children in the country.

The doctor, alongside 22 pregnant girls aged between 15 and 18, was picked up by men of the Enugu State Command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). The raid on the doctor’s alleged baby–breeding facility named “Uzoma Maternity and Social Home,” followed the confession and arrest of a child trafficker, Mrs Bene Aguocha who was caught with a one-day-old baby boy whom she confessed to have bought from the maternity home at a cost of N340, 000.

The Enugu State Commandant of the NSCDC, Desmond Agu, told newsmen that the girls were lured to the maternity home and paid peanuts in exchange for their babies who were to be sold at birth. The doctor, however, claimed to be doing a social service to prevent the girls from committing abortion.

The arrest of Dr Akunne is only a further confirmation of the increasing menace of child sale in the country. Earlier this month, the police in Abuja paraded an 80-year-old woman, Madam Grace Erondu, who ran an illegal hostel in Osisioma area of Aba, in Abia State, in which she accommodated pregnant girls whose babies were sold shortly after delivery.

Eleven pregnant girls were found in home, while a similar criminal hideout has been reported in a part of Lagos. Even mothers have been arrested for this reprehensible act, with a woman, Nwakego Thomas, confessing that she sold her twin boys for N120, 000, because she could not take care of them.

We strongly condemn the odious practice of mass breeding of babies either for sale or fostering. This obnoxious practice, which should not even be mentioned in any sane society, can only bring odium to our national image.
The practice, we believe, has a role to play in the increasing reports of missing young girls in the country. It is no social service at all to keep young girls in illegal hostels or homes mostly without the knowledge of their parents and guardians only to buy the babies off them for sale to the highest bidders.
The government must therefore move quickly to stamp out this base activity and also investigate the status of Dr Akunne as a qualified medical doctor. Persons who have been arrested for child breeding for sale should be severely punished to deter others from the appalling practice. This is very necessary because some of the born-for-sale babies may not actually end up in foster homes, but in the hands of ritualists.

Some, as has been reported in at least one instance, may end up being trafficked outside the country. The girls who are used for this trade also stand great risk of being given unnecessary fertility drugs to induce the birth of twins and triplets. Some may end up being left to die if they have particularly difficult deliveries necessitating caesarian operations, or stillbirths, since the objective of the “homes” or “hostels” is to make a profit.

The government, non-governmental organizations, parents and the society at large should also be interested in how Nigerians got to this sorry pass in which the sacredness of human life is thrown overboard and babies become just another item of trade. We need to address the question of what happened to our values. We should pay more attention to the youths, giving them the appropriate values and sex education that will not make them vulnerable to unwanted pregnancies and nefarious propositions from unconscionable child traffickers.

Parents should be closer to their children and give every parental support in even the most discouraging circumstances, including that involving unwanted pregnancies. Every hand should be on deck in the campaign against unwanted pregnancies, and every youth educated on the sacredness, value and great potentials of every newborn child.

The government must also be concerned about the increasing reports of infertility in the land, which has made trading in babies so lucrative. The high cost of fertility treatment, which runs into over one million naira in some instances, should be addressed. Government hospitals should be equipped to offer assisted reproduction facilities at a reasonable cost to childless couples. There should be more government-regulated institutions where unwanted children that are at risk of being abandoned or sold could be nurtured and given out for adoption under stringent conditions that are determined by the government.

Above all, persons who have been arrested for this obnoxious trade in babies should be prosecuted and severely punished. That is the only way that we can send a strong message that the government and people of this country take a very serious view of this heinous development.

2008 Jun 20