Six pregnant girls have been rescued from a ‘baby factory’ in Umunya, a community in Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State, Nigeria’s south-east.
The Commissioner for Health in the state, Afam Obidike, disclosed this on Wednesday while speaking to reporters in Awka, according to a report by Punch newspaper.
Mr Obidike, a medical doctor, said the pregnant girls were rescued when some security operatives, in collaboration with officials of the Anambra State Government, raided the “baby factory” earlier on Wednesday.
The commissioner said the “baby factory” operators named the facility Mother and Child Hospital and Maternity, ostensibly to confuse authorities that they were operating a hospital.
He said the state’s Health Facility, Accreditation and Monitoring Unit arrived at the facility for its routine inspection when they discovered that it was a “baby factory”.
Mr Obidike added that some medical attendants working in the facility locked up the place and ran away after the government officials requested to see the doctor on duty to find out why the facility was not registered with the state government.
“Security operatives including OCHA-Brigade, Civil Defence Corps and the police later assisted the monitoring team in gaining access into the facility.
“When we gained access to the facility, what we saw was shocking. We discovered six underage pregnant girls, between ages 14, 15, 16, 17 and 21 years, allegedly camped against their wishes,” he said.
“We interviewed these girls and they told us that they were being camped by one self-acclaimed doctor, who they identified as Mr Odili Ossai, from Delta State, now at large.
“They said when they deliver the babies, the operator of the facility would sell them,” the commissioner added.
Mr Obidike said five people were arrested by the security operatives in connection with the incident, and that the police would carry out further investigation.
The commissioner urged residents of the state to report any illegal activity, malpractice or concern about healthcare services in the state.
He assured that the Anambra State Government was committed to stamping out fake and quack health facilities across the state.
‘Baby factories’ in Nigeria
“Baby factory,” sometimes disguised as an orphanage, is a name given to a facility where traffickers hold young women against their will, rape and force them to get pregnant. The newborns at the facility are then sold illegally to adoptive parents.
Girls in such a facility are sometimes forced into child labour and prostitution.
A recent investigation uncovered how a supposed Christian orphanage in Anambra State, another state in the South-east, was illegally selling babies between N1.5 million and N2 million, depending on a baby’s gender.
The investigation also revealed how the sales were executed with the collusion of the officials of the Nigerian police and the judiciary.