11 June 2008

Nigeria: Infants for Sale?

In the past few days, the police have announced the discovery of illegal maternity homes, which are also used for trafficking in newborn babies, in Abia and Enugu states. The homes operate in the same way: Unmarried pregnant girls are admitted until they give birth.

The infants are separated from their mothers and then sold off to ritual killers or adoptive parents. Although the "matron" or trafficker sells each baby for N200, 000 or more, the new mother gets a pittance after recovering from post-natal pains. She is promptly discharged, and she goes back to school or home.

The police have arrested and paraded the suspects - expectant and new mothers as well as the operators of the illegal homes. We hope that will not be the end of the story, as a probe could solve the mysteries of missing persons and ritual murders that are rampant in the country. The defence of the suspects is that it is better to sell the babies than to let them be killed through abortion or abandonment. Their right to fair hearing should be respected, but the courts will remind them that it is criminal to buy or sell human life.

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