Poverty. Frustration. To buy mobile phones. Here are heart-wrenching reasons parents sell their babies for as low as N150k in Nigeria

Giving bizarre reasons such as using the proceeds to buy smartphones to the absurd like using them as collateral, no fewer than 15 parents sold out their babies between February last year to June this year. The proceeds realized from the sales, as captured in this report, amounted to N5.4 million.

Days after selling her six month-old baby for N200,000 in July last year, Miracle Omovuokpor, a 23-years-old mother of two, surrendered herself to the police in Edo State.

Interestingly, the suspect had sold the baby, whose name was given as Greatness, to an orphanage in Onitsha, Anambra State, and used part of the proceeds from the sales of the child to buy a mobile phone.

Miracle, who hails from Agenebode, in Etsako East Local Government Area of the State, blamed her action on frustration and the inability of her husband to take care of them.

She also claimed that she was persuaded by her friend whom she identified as Mama Joy, to sell the infant and give the money to her husband to start a business.

“My baby was born on July 2, 2018. I sold her due to frustration. There was no food, nothing. My husband was just struggling. There was no money to take care of her.

“My friend (Mama Joy) said that since my husband was not taking care of me, if I sell the baby I could give the money to my husband to start a business or buy a motorcycle. I told my husband what my friend said and he warned her. “Two weeks later, she came back. I did not know what happened to me, so I carried a bag, picked some things and left. I sold her to an orphanage in Onitsha for N200,000. I just bought only a phone; I did not want to buy it but she [Mama Joy] forced me to do so.”

Husband of the suspect, Mr. Johnson Omovuokpor, expressed anger that his wife went ahead with her plan, in spite of his disapproval.

“When she told me about her plan, I told her that it would not help. I told her to forget about it and exercise patience.

“We quarreled over it and slept. The next day, my landlady asked me if my wife was travelling. So, I went inside asked her where she was travelling to. She denied. So, I brought out my motorcycle and went out to repair it. When I went home to get some money to pay for the repair, I saw my first daughter with my neighbour.

“When I asked about my wife’s whereabouts, I was told that she went out with a bag, saying that she was going to buy something. So, I remembered what she said she wanted to do with the baby. “When she called me later in the afternoon to tell me that she had sold the baby, I rained curses on her and ended the call. I became confused afterwards and could not do anything for the rest of that day”, Omovuokpor said. Elsewhere in Imo State the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the State Police Command had in May this year arrested a 27-year-old single mother, Nneka Donatus, who allegedly sold her baby girl a day after putting to bed for N600,000. Like Miracle, Nneka reportedly confessed that she used part of the proceeds to buy a phone, wrapper and slippers for herself, adding that she was not ready to keep the baby having given birth to five children already. According to her she bought a phone, wrapper and slippers for herself and intended to use what remained of the money to start a business.

“I sold my baby girl for N600,000 and used N15,000 from the money to buy a phone, wrapper and slippers and transported myself back home’, she said.

For Daniel Bassey and his wife Magdalene, a couple from Cross River State, their two-year-old son was sold as collateral for the payment of house rent in July 2018. However, luck ran out on them as the police command in Cross River arrested the couple for allegedly trafficking their two-year old first son to an agent in Port Harcourt in exchange for money.

Cross River State commissioner of police, Mr Hafiz Inuwa, who presented the suspects to journalists in Calabar, reportedly said the couple was arrested on July 23 in Calabar after a report by the mother of the child, Mrs Magdalene Bassey.

“On July 23 2018, one Mrs Magdalene Bassey reported at Efut divisional headquarters in Calabar that her husband, Mr Daniel Bassey, took their first son to an unknown person in Port Harcourt through one woman called ‘Mummy.’

“Police immediately swung into action and arrested the suspect. During interrogation, the suspect revealed that his wife was a party to the transaction.

“The duo is now in police custody to unravel the cause of this inhuman action and possible prosecution,” he said. The father of the child said: “I did it based on the debt of N21,000 I collected from a friend to pay my house rent. There is no work in this rainy season and I am jobless. A guy from my area informed me that he knows a woman who lends money to people. That my friend told me that I can give out the child as collateral to get the money without necessarily selling him.

“The woman gave me N180,000 immediately after she received the child. After that, my mother in-law came and asked me of the child and I lied to her that I took the baby to my brother for holiday,” he said.

In Benin, Edo State capital, Police in August 2018 arrested a 26-year-old bricklayer, Kenneth Ofoke, for allegedly selling his six-week-old twin babies for N500,000.

Kenneth, who hailed from Ebonyi State, was said to have sold the infants in Port Harcourt but was arrested in Edo State.

He was among suspects paraded by Edo state Police Commissioner, Mr Mohammed DanMallam, for alleged involvement in various crimes. Kenneth claimed the twins he sold were his children and that the incident happened in August last year, adding that he sold the twins “due to financial constraints and ill-health of the children and their mother.”

“My wife gave birth to twins; she and the twins fell ill, so I called my aunt who said I should bring them to Port Harcourt to help me out so that I can take care of the woman. “When we get to Port Harcourt, my aunt asked us whether we were really husband and wife and whether the twins were really our children and we said yes. She then told us that the children needed better treatment so as to save their lives and that of the mother. “I told her to save the children so that I can go and take care of my wife. I also told her that we will be coming to see them from time to time. She then told us that the children would be taken to an orphanage and called the people who gave me N500,000 to take care of my wife in exchange for the baby,” he said.

Another couple had been arrested by operatives of Inspector-General of Police Monitoring Unit in Afam, in Oyigbo Local Government Area of Rivers State, for selling their day-old child for N250,000 in October last year. The couple, Richard and Chidinma Benson, reportedly said they sold their baby to enable them leave their village in the Isiala Ngwa North LGA of Abia State to seek better life in a town.

Chidinma had reportedly been delivered of a baby boy at Graceland Maternity Home in Afam on October 7, 2018, but sold the baby to one Rose Onyia. It was gathered that the baby was later resold to another child trafficker, identified as Eucharia Jaja, for N550,000 after which the infant was sold to an unnamed person in Lagos.

The couple reportedly claimed that poverty led them to sell the baby, who they said was their fourth child.

“We sold our baby to one woman (Rose Onyia). I have four children and one is late. The baby was one day old when we sold him for N250,000. I did it with my husband’s approval. We wanted to leave the village because we were living in poverty. My husband was a wheelbarrow pusher and we believed that if we sell the baby, we would have enough money to come to a town in Umuahia or Port Harcourt”, Chidimma said.

Her husband, Benson Richard, confirmed that they were almost dying of poverty when they decided to sell to sell the baby so that they could leave the village.

“My wife had a big sore in one of her legs and we needed money to treat the wound. At a point, my wife could not walk; that was when we decided to sell the baby boy after he was delivered,” Benson said.

The instances listed above are among 15 reported cases of parents who sold their babies in different parts of the country between February 2018 and June this year. The ages of the babies allegedly sold ranged from one day to two years. The total sum realised from the sale of babies by their respective parents within the period in review amounted to N5.4 million.

Each baby was sold out for between N150,000 to N850,000.

Further checks show that the highest number of babies sold was recorded in 2018 (10 cases) while 5 bases have so far reported as at June this year. The cases were reported in seven states, namely: Anambra (4), Imo (2), Niger (1), Rivers (3), Enugu (1), Abia (3) and Lagos (1).

While some of the parents who reportedly sold their babies attributed their actions to financial constrains others, especially female parents said they did so out of frustration because their husbands could not cater for their families.

 

Daily Trust

 

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