A flourishing underground baby supermarket in the Niger Delta, Nigeria’s main oil and gas region, is currently under investigation by the authorities following the arrest of its proprietor.
The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), says they have arrested a 38-year-old man allegedly involved in human trafficking and sale of children through a sting operation.
NAPTIP’s Zonal Commander in Edo State, Nduka Nwanwenne, told the News Agency of Nigeria in Benin on Monday that the suspect was arrested in Warri, the commercial nerve centre of Delta State, after he planned to sell a baby for N1.5 million.
Before this development, NAPTIP has been attributing the proliferation of baby making factories to a lapse in the child adoption process. The agency’s Head, Media and Communication, Arinze Orakwue, had said in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, that stigmatisation by the society encouraged the increasing rise of baby making factories in the country.
He also expressed regret that the child adoption process had been hijacked by criminals, a situation, which, he said, had led to the prevalence of criminal activity in the society. ‘’What is happening is a criminalisation of the adoption process; some criminals have infiltrated the adoption programme.
‘’So, what has happened is that these people go on and set up homes – things that ordinarily institutions are allowed to deal with – and they go outside of the homes to do illegalities. Now what has also fast tracked it? We are a pretentious society.
‘’You have people needing children to adopt that do not want to make it public. Then you have a society that throws children who by reasons of misadventure have become pregnant. Then, you now have criminals who have pretentiously provided shelter and cover for these children to come and drop.
‘’So, when these three things meet that is when you have the issue we are talking about. Inadvertently you are producing merchandise for these individuals to deal with. But the funny thing is that they have taken a step further by picking up children, make them pregnant and they become baby making factories for these criminals to sell.’’
Nwanwenne however, said that the suspect, who hails from Okpe Local Government Area of Delta, operates an unregistered orphanage known as Kelly Osia Orphanage Home at Orhuwhorun in Udu Local Government Area.
According to him, the suspect, who tried to register the said orphanage with the Delta State Ministry of Women Affairs, Community and Social Development, was repeatedly turned down but continued to run the Orphanage illegally for selling and adopting babies.
According to him, ‘’the suspect’s cover was blown open in a sting operation when a child protection specialist posed as a prospective client for the adoption of a baby in the orphanage. The undercover child protection specialist was told to buy provisions and food items, including biscuits, noodles, semovita, milk and other types of beverages for the children at the orphanage, to gain entrance into the Home.
‘’The undercover specialist was later asked to deposit the sum of N50, 000 as registration fee at a bank operated by the Orphanage. After the payment of registration fees and completion of the necessary forms and interviews, the suspect produced a three-month old baby for the child protection specialist and further requested the sum of N1.5 million from the undercover specialist for the baby.
‘’During the negotiation, the undercover child protection specialist said he was going to inform his wife first before picking the baby. Later that same day, the suspect allegedly called the undercover child protection specialist, saying that there was another child that looks so much like the first one and that they could be paired as twins.
‘’The suspect demanded an additional payment of two million naira to bring the total sum to N3.5 million, for the two babies.’’
Nwanwenne said that it was at that point that the child protection specialist immediately reported the matter to the NAPTIP Office, for prompt action: ‘’The suspect was apprehended and has been taken into custody and is making useful statements.’’