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Nigerian 'baby farm'
raided – 32 pregnant girls rescued
Teenage mothers were allegedly forced to give up newborns to human
traffickers in southern city of Aba
David Smith in Johannesburg
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 2 June 2011 16.12 BST
Nigerian police have raided an alleged "baby farm" where
teenage mothers were forced to give up their newborns for sale to human
Thirty-two pregnant girls were rescued from a maternity home run by a
trafficking ring in the southern city of Aba, police said.
The girls, mostly of school age, were allegedly locked up at the Cross
Foundation clinic so they could produce babies to be sold for illegal
adoption or for use in ritual witchcraft.
Bala Hassan, the Abia state police commissioner, said: "We stormed
the premises of the Cross Foundation in Aba three days ago following a
report that pregnant girls aged between 15 and 17 are being made to make
babies for the proprietor.
"We rescued 32 pregnant girls and arrested the proprietor, who is
undergoing interrogation over allegations that he normally sells the
babies to people who may use them for rituals or other purposes."
Hassan added that four babies, already sold in an alleged deal but not
yet collected, were also recovered in the raid.
Estimates of the girls' ages varied. Geoffrey Ogbonna, another police
spokesman, was quoted by CNN: "There are about 30 pregnant young
ladies; the eldest was 20 years old. Some belong in secondary, even in
A doctor arrested at the clinic said the babies had been handed over to
social welfare for adoption.
Some of the rescued girls told police that the hospital owner gave them
$192 (£118) for newborn boys and $161 for newborn girls after they were
Dr Hyacinth Orikara, proprietor of the Cross Foundation, is likely to
face charges of child abuse and human trafficking, police said. Buying
or selling babies can carry a 14-year jail sentence.
Orikara, reportedly a university graduate and employee of the Abia state
health management board, denied the allegations, claiming the home was a
foundation to help teenagers with unwanted pregnancies.
Human trafficking is ranked the third most common crime in Nigeria -
after financial fraud and drug trafficking - according to Unesco's
report on human trafficking in Nigeria. At least 10 children are sold
every day across the country, according to the UN. Traffickers are
Babies are sold for up to $6,400 each, depending on the sex, the
National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons says.
Teenagers with unplanned pregnancies are sometimes lured to clinics and
then forced to hand over their babies.
The children are often put up for illegal adoption or, in some parts of
the country, killed as part of witchcraft rituals because they are
thought to make charms more powerful.
The police carried out similar raids on such clinics in neighbouring
Enugu state in 2008.
A Nigerian woman was jailed in Britain three years ago for trying to
smuggle a baby into the country in order to get on the list for a
• This article was amended on 3 June 2011 to include a reference to
the Unesco report on human trafficking in Nigeria.
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