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Nigeria: Police arrest pregnant girls in ‘baby factory’


Nigeria: Police arrest pregnant girls in ‘baby factory’

Enugu (Nigeria) - Seven teenage pregnant girls were yesterday, in a raid by the police, arrested at another ‘baby factory,’ Tex Hospital and Maternity, in Nsude, Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State.

By This Day (Nigeria), by Francis Ugwoke | 08.12.2008
Also arrested were the hospital’s Chief Medical Director, Dr. Ikechukwu Onoh, his assistant, Mr. Linus Ogbodo, two female nurses and the laboratory scientist,  Mr  Emmanuel Ude.
The raid, according to the police, was sequel to complaints by residents of the area that some pregnant girls were held hostage in the hospital.
Although, Onoh denied being involved in the sale of babies or any illegal deal, THISDAY gathered that the police from Nsude Divisional Police Station led by Sgt. Simeon Aduba besieged the hospital following complaints that another pregnant teenage girl, Matilda Ani, was being held hostage in the hospital.
Ani, who is said to be pregnant for one Chukwudi Okafor, was said to have been forcefully picked up from her residence in Nsude and kept in the hospital awaiting the delivery of her baby.
Having spent about one week in the hospital, she was said to have been allowed to use the phone of another pregnant girl, which she promptly called a director of an Enugu-based non-governmental organisation (NGO). In the call, she was said to have informed the NGO director that she was held against her wish after she refused to terminate her pregnancy.
The director, whose identity could not be ascertained, was said to have contacted the police in Nsude who raided the home and arrested other pregnant girls, including the officials of the hospital. It was alleged that pregnant teenage girls when brought into the home are usually not allowed  to go until they deliver their babies which are left at the hospital. It was also gathered that on delivery, the mothers are paid off while the babies  are  allegedly sold to interested parties.
Ani, who spoke to newsmen in Enugu, said she was forced to stay in the foster home by  people who she suspected were friends of her boy friend.
According to her, the  same people had wanted her to abort her pregnancy, which she stoutly refused and ultimately led to her being held hostage.
She said on arriving the hospital, she was dispossessed of everything she had including her phone, which made it difficult for her to reach out to people for help.
However, the Chief Medical Director of the foster home, Onoh, denied selling such babies to the public or forcing Ani into his hospital.
“My duty is to help any pregnant girl that comes into the place to deliver her baby. I am into legitimate business and the social welfare ministry is aware of this,” he said. The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr Mike Abattam, could not be reached as at the time of filing this report, but all the suspects were detained at Nsude Police station.
Reacting to the incident, the Resident NGO's in Enugu, Mr. Elias Igwe, called  on the state government to intervene on the activities of foster homes because of the bad publicity for the state.
A similar home had about two months ago been raided during which 20 pregnant girls were discovered. Already, the Medical Director of the hospital, one Dr. Kenneth Akunne, is currently facing trial at the Enugu Federal High Court over the incident.


2008 Aug 12