Following expiration of the two weeks ultimatum given to operators of illegal homes and orphanages in Lagos State, the enforcement team of the Ministry of Youth and Social Development at the weekend arrested a woman allegedly harbouring pregnant women illegally under the guise of operating a traditional birth maternity.
Officials of the ministry, escorted by 20 policemen from the Ajah Police Station and Area 'J' police command, stormed the area at Baboon Village, Ajele.The Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Mr. Agboola Dabiri, said the suspect, a Togolese, was arrested alongside a pregnant woman, three babies and six other women. The suspect, however, denied operating a home where children are sold.
Dabiri said the ministry was tipped off that the suspect "keeps young girls and ladies for the purpose of producing babies who would be sold out."He added: "With the help of the police, we were able to apprehend the owner of the place identified as Bankole Regina, six other middle-aged women and three babies were also rescued.
"Two of the babies rescued were discovered to be critically ill. In fact, one of the babies is at the point of death. As we speak, we have taken over the babies in one of our homes. The sick ones are being attended to in the hospital while the adults have been handed over to the police for further interrogation and prosecution. Illegal homes pose a great risk to our state. They breed prostitution and transmission of different diseases among others," he said.
The suspect said she had been operating the traditional birth maternity for over 30 years. She claimed that the babies rescued from her were abandoned by their mothers after delivery under the pretense of going home to take their delivery kits.
Bankole also said she registered with the Eti-Osa Local Government Area as a traditional birth attendant and that she was about preparing to take a course in traditional birth attendance. She added that one of the three babies recovered from her place was her child and that the other two belonged to someone else kept in her custody.
The suspect, who disclosed that she is from Togo but married to a Nigerian, said she is well known in the area as a traditional birth attendant who delivers pregnant women traditionally.