Three pregnant teenagers among those rescued from baby factories in the Ikotun and Abaranje areas of Lagos said the shame of carrying babies born after r.a.p.e incidents led them to the state.
The teenagers, Joy, 15, Happiness, 17 and Favour, 17, were part of the 19 pregnant persons and four children rescued recently from baby factories in the communities.
The locations, according to the police, are Adisa Street, Ikotun; Owosho Street, Governor Road, Ikotun; Olugbeyohun Street, Olakunle bus stop, Abaranje; and Anomo Street, Abaranje.
Men from the Isheri Osun Police Station were said to have stormed the buildings on September 19, and arrested two suspects, a “nurse” and “caregiver” while their ringleader, one Oluchi, is still at large.
Narrating the events leading to her stay in the clandestine home, Happiness told City Round that she was gang-raped by three young men at a bar in Awka, Anambra State, where she worked as an attendant.
She stated that her boss gave her concoctions to abort the pregnancy to no avail and sent her back to her village in Agwata .
The teenager said she was ashamed to return to her parents with pregnancy, especially when she could not tell who was responsible for it.
While she was looking for where she could stay till she was delivered of the baby, Happiness, who is now seven months pregnant, said a woman called Mama Dada linked her up with Oluchi.
She said, “Mama Dada brought me to Lagos on August 17. She told me a woman takes care of pregnant women and she assured me that the woman would take care of me. I was raped at a bar by three boys. One of them is called Rich. They ran away.
“On the day I was r.a.p.e.d, my friend asked me to drink with them. I told them I don’t take alcohol. They persuaded me and after taking it, I slept off. I woke up and found out they had pulled off my clothes and raped me.
“I told my boss and she informed her husband. They gave me some concoctions to abort the pregnancy, but it didn’t work. My parents are in the village. They are farmers. My mother warned me while I was leaving the village not to come back home with pregnancy.
“I am ashamed of myself. I don’t know who the pregnancy belongs to among the three men. Mama Dada did not tell me the woman (Oluchi) would sell the baby.”
Joy, 15, from Akwa Ibom State, looked tired and depressed. Her pregnancy, which is in the eighth month, outweighs her fragile posture. She appeared dishevelled and could hardly coordinate her thoughts.
“It was a boy called John that impregnated me. He raped me. One aunty brought me to Lagos. I don’t remember her name. They promised to give me N300,000 after I gave birth. Since I got there, I took garri in the morning,” she disclosed, trying to wipe off the sweat on her face.
“I am not happy with this condition. I am too young to be pregnant. I want to go back to school,” she added. She kept mum when asked about her parents.
Favour, a 17-year-old girl from Mbaise in Imo State, explained that she was raped by her cousin, one Emeka, which resulted in the pregnancy, adding that her uncle handed her over to Oluchi.
She said, “It was my cousin who raped me. I went to visit my uncle that day but he was not around. I met only Emeka at home. He started touching me and before I knew it, he dragged me to the floor and r.a.p.e.d me. My uncle asked me to follow Madam Oluchi to Lagos because of the shame.”
She claimed that the agreement she had with Oluchi was that the baby would be given out for adoption, adding that she was not aware of the plan to sell the baby.
Another victim, Maureen Gift, 20, from Omagwa, Rivers State, said she agreed to stay with Oluchi in Lagos because her boyfriend rejected the pregnancy and her parents chased her away.
She stated, “My boyfriend was maltreating me. He said he didn’t need the baby. He sent me away and I went back to my parents’ home. I went back to appeal to him. He asked me to go away and threatened to kill me.
“When my mother started mounting pressure on me to leave, I became confused. I met with a midwife who introduced me to her brother in Lagos. The man came to Rivers and we left for Lagos. My plan was that after giving birth, I would find something to do in Lagos. I didn’t know they wanted to sell my baby when I gave birth.”
But a 25-year-old woman, who gave her name only as Kelechi, was fully aware of her mission in Lagos. She had decided to sell her baby for N200,000 upon delivery because her boyfriend denied responsibility for the pregnancy.
Another pregnant woman, Ana Oma from Rivers State, said, “Madam Oluchi promised me N500, 000 if the baby is a boy and N300, 000 if it is a girl. I agreed. But some days after, I started having bad dreams. I told the caregiver living with us to give me money to go back but she ignored me.”
One of the two suspects arrested, Mrs Sherifat Ipaye, a self-acclaimed nurse, denied knowing Oluchi. The secondary school leaver said she was engaged by the caregiver, Mrs Happiness Ukwuoma, claiming that she was not aware the babies were being sold.
She said, “I am a nurse. I learnt it from one of my brothers who has a hospital in Ketu and later I worked at a hospital on Ijegun Road. Madam Happiness called me sometime in July that she had some pregnant women she would bring for me to help deliver of their babies. I said I would collect N20, 000 per delivery but we negotiated and agreed on N15, 000.
“She had brought three women so far. They only spent a day in my house. Once they gave birth, she would come for the mother and the baby, but I don’t know where she took them to. She just gave me money for one job. She still owes me N30, 000. I was handling the fourth one when policemen came and arrested me. I knew what I did is illegal. All I want is forgiveness.”
Ukwuoma, who was in charge of a two-bedroom apartment used for one of the baby factories in Ikotun, said Oluchi placed her on a monthly salary of N20,000, adding that she had handed over three babies to her so far.
She said, “I am from Orlu in Imo State. I am only taking care of the pregnant women at the apartment she (Oluchi) rented in Ikotun. I started working for her in June and she paid me N20, 000 every month. Nine pregnant women were with me when the police came. Since we have been working together, three pregnant women had given birth.
“She took the babies away and paid their mothers. I don’t know how much she gave them. It was through my husband that I knew her. He was a commercial driver and Oluchi once boarded his bus from Imo to Lagos.”
Handing the victims over to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, DSP Bala Elkana, said the command was closing in on the prime suspect and other members of the syndicate.
NAPTIP Zonal Commander in Lagos, Mr Daniel Atokolo, said the victims would be rehabilitated and profiled to get more facts on the case.
He said, “We will profile them to know those behind the trafficking otherwise it will continue to be a vicious circle. Those who have good news for us may not go immediately because we need them in our investigation and at the point of prosecution as witnesses.”
Source: Ladun Liadi