Mr Frank Mba, an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Lagos State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Panti, Yaba, has described baby factory or child harvesting as another phase of human trafficking.
Mba spoke at a seminar organised by the Crime Reporters Association of Nigeria (CRAN) to mark the International Day against Drug and Human Trafficking on Thursday in Lagos.
The theme of the seminar is: “Human and Drug Trafficking: Changing the Narrative in Nigeria”.
Mba said that the trend was precipitated by various factors including a social premium placed on childbearing, infertility and teenage pregnancy hastened by the unwanted social stigma associated with them.
“The baby factory syndrome is also another phase of human trafficking and a great concern as it thrives locally and internationally.
“It is a well organised crime, sometimes with medical doctors involved in running the factory like a legal entity.
“They operate the place like a maternity home and the babies produced are being sold out domestically and internationally.
“Some bring their babies to be sold, while some were even brought to the factory without pregnancy and able-bodied men are made to impregnate them willingly or forcefully.
“They gave birth, get paid and those willing to stay are even retained for further production of babies,’’ Mba said.
According to him, I pray that the kids will end in good hands so that they will not fall victims of organ harvest or ritualists.
“The clergies, traditional rulers and members of the civil organisations have important roles to play in curbing this menace,’’ Mba said.
The police chief said that one of the main reasons why the factory syndrome had continued to grow was the stigmatisation of teenage and out of wedlock pregnancy in the society.
“It is high time the society accept teenage or out of wedlock pregnancy as it is not a crime against humanity.
“One of the reasons why the baby factory will continue to grow is because of the stigmatisation which makes the victims to visit the place and return like nothing has happened after selling their babies.
“They need to understand that teenage or out of wedlock pregnancy is not a crime against humanity and authorities need to check the demand and supply chain in the act.
“The government also needs to subsidise fertility treatment and streamline the adoption process in the country,” Mba said.
He enjoined members of the media to join in tackling the menace as they have what it takes to bring the battle to the fore front.
According to a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation report in 2006, most of the discovered baby factories were found in Southern Nigeria with high incidence in Ondo, Ogun, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Abia and Anambra.
From a single identified baby factory in 2008 and 2009, the number of identified factories later increased to a total of five in 2013 and eight in 2015.
In 2008, a network of baby factories claiming to be orphanages were revealed in Enugu through police raids and in 2011, police raided two more hospitals and dismantled two baby factories in Aba.