Security personnel in the Plateau state capital embark on crackdown of a novel ugly
phenomenon in the area-baby factory

 

UNTIL RECENTLY, baby factory
phenomenon was relatively unknown in
Plateau state , in North Central Nigeria.
Baby factory concept was strange as it
is against the norms and morals of the
largely Christian dominated state. That
was why many people in the area were
jolted last week, when 13 persons were
arrested in Jos the state capital for allegedly
operating a baby factory along old Bukuru
Park following a tip-off by a victim of the
syndicate. Our correspondent gathered that
those arrested included nine males and four
females, including a pregnant woman and
another woman clutching a toddler.The
arrest was made by operatives of Operation
Safe Haven ,OPSH, deployed to restore law
and order in the state. Speaking to newsmen
, the OPSH Commander, Major General
Rogers Nicholas said while parading the
suspects at Sector 2 of the taskforce that
the group had a ready market for the sale
of infants in Abuja, FCT, and Lafiya in
Nasarawa state.
“This is an issue that is now bothering
us within the North Central and based on
intelligence, our men were able to trace the
location of the baby factory. This raid will
continue to ensure that such evil acts are
trashed,” he said.
Narrating her story, one Happiness John
,who became a victim of the suspects. who
just had her second child out of wedlock
said she had been tricked into taking hard
drugs by a friend who got scared and
abandoned the escapade on noticing that
she had been rendered unconscious
She said: “During my first pregnancy
almost two years ago, my friend, Zubaida
came to me and told me that I should come
and stay with her in a separate room so that
when I gave birth, she would take me to
Lafia in Nasarawa state to sell the baby and
get capital to start a business. She told me
she had once sold her twins in Abuja but I
rejected the idea.”
She further explained: “When I had the
second pregnancy, Zubaida and her friend
came and took me to a room around West of
Mines in Jos and gave me hard drugs. I later
found myself in my aunt’s room having
delivered a baby. I immediately returned
home with my baby and told my mother
who accompanied me to security agents.”
Three of the women who were paraded
denied being in the business but one
Mildred Luke who was visibly pregnant,
said she was impregnated by one of the
men now at large. She said, “They promised
me N350,000 for a baby boy and N300,000 for
a baby girl while N400,000 will be paid to me if
I delivered twins.”
To most citizens of Plateau, this was strange,
Lazarus Pitum ,a citizen of Plateau said this act
is against the ethics of Plateau people and its
inhuman, I am surprise “
On assumption of office , the Plateau state
government led by Simon Lalong vowed to
ameliorate the plight of the downtrodden in the
society especially children .He said through
his commissioner for women affairs Rufina
Gurumyen recently that issues concerning
the rights of children in the society cant not be
over emphasized, He explained that as one
of the mandate of the present administration,
the ministry of women affairs has collaborate
with child protection network in the state to
strengthen child rights system as an effective
tool for implementation.
It would be recalled that worried by the high
rate of rape and other forms of violence against
children in the country the state government
and United Nations Children Funds ,UNICEF,
partnered towards eradicating the menace in
the state.
The Plateau State government, had then
released a data revealing that no fewer than 50
cases of rape of all sexes have been reported in
the past four months in the state. Addressing
newsmen ahead of the launch of a campaign
to end Violence Against Children in Jos, the
state Commissioner for Women Affairs and
Social Develpment, Mrs.Rufina Guruyen, said
the available record in her ministry revealed
5O recent cases of rape in the state, adding
that the process of getting the date had been
painstaking because parents of the victims
of rape were not keen on disclosing the acts
for fear of stigmatisation.The commissioner,
who said her ministry was working towards
ensuring that justice was done to all reported
cases, enjoined parents in the state to oblige
the ministry with information of rape with the
aim of bringing the perpetrators to book and
serving as deterrent to others
Speaking earlier, United Nations Children’s
Fund ,UNICEF, Communication Officer,
Media and External Relations, Mr Samuel
Kaalu, said approximately six out of every
10 children in the country experienced some
form of physical, emotional or sexual violence
before the age of 18, annually.
He said research revealed that violence
against children is on the increase in the
country.
“One in two children experiences physical
violence; one in four girls and one in ten
boys experiences sexual violence; and one
in six girls and one in five boys experiences
emotional violence.”Kaalu commended
government of Plateau State for standing
against violence against children, adding
that Plateau was the fourth state in Nigeria
to respond to the call made by President
Muhammadu Buhari during the launch of
the National Action to End Violence Against
Children during which every state in Nigeria
initiated its own campaign.EndVAC is a
national child protection campaign funded by
the United Nations Children Funds ,UNICEF,
and Plateau State government keyed into it
following President Muhammadu Buhari
directive to all states to initiate the programme.
Similarly speaking to newsmen during
the monthly press briefing recently ,
the commissioner for Information and
Communication , Mallam Nazif Muhammed
said “ The present administration is especially
supportive of activities that, among others,
promote the Sustainable Development Goals
,SDGs “. “
In this regard, it has supported the many
efforts designed to protect the child, such as
the formation of the Technical Working Group
(TWG) on violence against children “.
He added: “Furthermore, the state
government developed the State specific
Priority Actions across sectors relevant
to child protection, following which the
final document was launched by the state
governor in September 2016 .
“Training for MDAs, CSOs, CPN, FBOs
and other stakeholders has also been
undertaken in collaboration with UNICEF.
This is aimed at equipping stakeholders
with the skill to handle cases of violence
against children in the state “.
According to the commissioner, “ To
empower women and girls under its
skills development program, the state
government has trained nineteen of them
in knitting, sewing, cosmetology, catering
and bead making at the end of which they
received some support for take-off. And,
in collaboration with the Sir Ahmadu Bello
Foundation, 100 women and youth also
underwent training in catering, fabric,
dyeing, poultry and cosmetics .
“A partnership was also entered into with
the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) to train
60 women/youths in garment making and
catering .
“The state government in collaboration
with the Plateau Aids Control Agency,
assisted by the World Bank enrolled 50
Persons Living With HIV/AIDS, orphans
and vulnerable children and care-givers
for training in the following as a form
of empowerment: tailoring, knitting,
shoe-making, catering, hair dressing and
computer application. The beneficiaries
were selected across the 17 local government
areas “ he said
Similarly it would be recalled that the
Lalong- led administration had said it
would continue to support the welfare
and well being of the aged in the state
especially as regards their healthy being
and social welfare in all the seventeen local
government areas of the state . .
Commissioner for Women Affairs and
Social Development in Plateau , Mrs.Rufina
Guruyen made this known while speaking
at the celebration of the day of the Elderly in
Jos the state capital.
She said “ The International Day for the
Elderly people is a day supported by the
United Nations to encourage people to
work harder to improve the lives of our
ageing Population “.
She noted that the state government is
relentless in its drive to ensure a healthy

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life for the elderly stated that bringing
the old people together once yearly to
socialise is one of the strategy government
is employing to boost their morale.
The commissioner added that the
celebration also affords the state
government the opportunity to focus
attention on the health and psychological
needs of the elderly and how to assist them.
“This is why we have brought together
medical personnels to screen and treat our
elderly for various ailments and to educate
the aged on healthy living”, .
The commissioner also urged people
of the state to take very good care of the
elderly just as she vowed that the state
government will do all within its reach to
ensure sound health for the aged in the
state.
“ Taking a stand against Ageism is apt
, because of the challenges our senior
citizens face despite the fact that they have
paid their dues , Majority of our elders
are not receiving the emotional care they
require , some do not have friends or family
members to help them out of some cases
, this is often due to children not being
around their elders as much as they should
be “
Also speaking at the occasion, the Wife
of the Governor Mrs Regina Lalong, who
was represented by the Senior Special
Adviser on Women Affairs to Gov Lalong
Felicia Yakzum , said we need the elderly to
continue to pray for us ,
She stressed that the Lalong- led
administration would also continue to
support the elderly at times.
This concept has come a long way. A
baby factory or baby farm is a location
where women are encouraged or forced
to become pregnant and give up their
newborns for sale. Some poverty-stricken
women have stated they voluntarily
worked at baby factories, motivated by the
prospect of monetary gain. The children are
sold for adoption, will work in plantations,
mines and factories, will carry out domestic
work or are sold into prostitution.]Child
harvesting in Nigeria is a new trend in
human trafficking whereby perpetrators
of the institution use structures disguised
as maternity homes, orphanages, clinics
and small scale factories[ to lure pregnant
girls to live and deliver babies in return for
monetary compensation.
The trend is precipitated by various factors
including a social premium placed on child
bearing, infertility and teenage pregnancy
hastened by the unwanted social stigma
associated with the last two factors. A black
market for newly born babies developed
in parts of the country to provide infants
to wealthy families who prefer cheaper
clandestine methods as a substitute for
surrogacy, in vitro fertilization, Assisted
reproductive technology or adoption
through social services.
The first publicly reported case of a baby
factory was inside a report published by
United Nations Educational, Scientific
and Cultural Organisation in 2006. Since
then most of the discovered baby factories
are found in Southern Nigeria with high
incidence in Ondo, Ogun, Imo, Akwa Ibom

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Abia and Anambra.
From a single identified baby factory in the
years 2008 and 2009, the number of identified
factories have increased to a total of five in
2013 and eight in 2015.
Majority of the women in such factories
are young unmarried women from lower
income households who are scared of social
stigmatisation as a result of an unwanted
teenage pregnancy. Some of the young girls
are lured to the baby factory after searching
for abortion clinics. In addition, to luring
young pregnant women, operators of such
factories also kidnap their young victims for
procreation.
A reverse application of fertility treatment
has led to the proliferation of baby factories
across Nigeria especially in the South Eastern
region. In these sweat shops, young girls who
are out and down on their luck with no hope
for a future are engaged by the owners of the
factories and made to enter into paid liaisons
with young men. As soon as they get pregnant,
they are catered for in these factories until they
bear children who are immediately taken
away from them and sold to already sourced
buyers.
The subterranean and exploitative motives
behind the actions negate its application
as a form of treatment of infertility. And
the offspring of these unions are in no way
biological children of the couple to whom they
are sold. Science has conquered infertility and
couples who have hitherto been unable to
conceive have a wide range of options. But the
problem arises when the couple or one of them
insists that the offspring must be biological.
Fertility management in Europe and North
America is guided by spirited monitoring
schemes with rules, regulations and
enabling laws. One of these is the adoption
process which though may be lengthy and
cumbersome is reliable. Another option is
surrogacy. Where the seed of the male partner
is active and motile but unable to conceive
the woman, there is the option of getting it
artificially inseminated into the woman.
This is achievable in many ways. But if the
husband’s sperm is unable to play this role,
artificial insemination can be done by a donor.
The same applies if the female partner is unable
to produce viable eggs for fertilization. No
records are kept of donors. They are usually
young and healthy medical students but each
laboratory has its own rules and regulations to
guide this process.
Both partners can also agree to produce
seeds which are united outside the body,
usually in the laboratory and the fertilized egg
inserted back into the female partner. This is
traditional surrogacy. This method produced
the world’s first test tube baby, Louise Brown.
The other variant of this method is when the
fertilized egg is carried by a surrogate mother
who has no genetic link to the offspring. This
is gestational surrogacy. A surrogate mother
is usually a paid person who ab initio agrees
to the rules and the baby delivered to its
biological parents. It is the negative variant
of this process that baby factories in Nigeria
exploit.
Ordinarily this could have passed for
surrogacy and a form of treatment of infertility
as once upon a time in some communities

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and societies, a woman unable to conceive
usually took a ‘wife’ that bore children for
her.
This was the case with Sarah and
Abraham and the slave girl Hagar in the
Old Testament. Surrogacy remains a grey
area in the management of the biological
child bearing process and is only legal in a
few countries. It started a little over thirty
years ago in the United States. In those
days, most of the surrogates were also the
genetic mothers who were made pregnant
through the insemination of the sperm of
the intending father. However, in 1986, a
surrogate mother Mary Beth Whitehead
refused to give the baby to its biological
father and his wife. This was the Baby M
case.
As the two families battled for rights to the
ownership of the child, traditional surrogacy
gave way to gestational surrogacy where
an embryo is created in vitro-sometimes
using eggs and sperm from the parents and
sometimes from donors and then transferred
to the surrogate mother who has no genetic
link to the offspring. This is the area that the
baby factory owners choose to exploit.
Even in recent times and in countries
where surrogacy is legal, like India and
Thailand and even in the United States,
problems are still rife in the entire process.
This is more so when three women are
involved: the genetic mother, who has the
egg used, the surrogate mother who carries
the baby to term and the mother who
commissioned the entire process.
The Nigerian baby factory begins
operations when rich gullible women seek
spiritual consultants and rogue healthcare
workers who promise to make them
conceive and bear children even when
they have passed their reproductive years.
They are made to feel pregnant one way
or the other but usually by unorthodox
manipulation.
Then, on an appointed day, they arrive
at the ‘maternity’ where they are sedated
and some kind of blood or its artificial
variant dabbed in the birth canal to give a
semblance of labour. On waking up, they
are presented with a bundle obviously
delivered around about that time in the next
room by someone else.
The female reproductive system can be
easily manipulated and women in their
fifties and early sixties have borne children.
But there is a well laid out procedure in
these instances involving highly qualified
personnel in state of the art facilities with
clear rules and regulations.
The products of Nigeria baby factories
have no genetic link with their ‘mothers’.
Problems begin when these babies are
screened for their genetic makeup as the
‘mothers’ try to take them abroad and want
to procure a passport, usually the American
one for their ‘offspring’.
The entire process now becomes a scandal
involving security agencies and the antihuman
trafficking squads. Surrogacy is an
old idea with a new name but Nigeria’s
baby factories fall short of the definition.
Nigeria needs to tighten its laws and bring
to an end this obnoxious trade in persons
while encouraging and sensitizing the
populace on the various platforms available
in the management of infertility.


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  • The Optimist

    Nothing about this has to do with poverty. The truth is that the level of MORAL DEGENERATION in Plateau state, as elsewhere in Nigeria, has reached the point that one wonders whether it is a manifestation of an EPIDEMIC OF MENTAL RETARDATION. It manifests in various forms, including promiscuity and the rest. We should not just parochially blame the situation on poverty which, in some ways, serves as a positive motivation for socially acceptable innovative survival strategies.