Baby factory exposed in Nigeria
The tiny building that housed a baby factory in Umuaka, Imo State in Eastern Nigeria was dilapidated and filthy. Nobody knows how many pregnant girls and teenagers passed through the factory or how long it had existed, before it was raided by Nigerian police five days ago.
The girls were set free. It was understandable that locals were not suspicious about what was going on there. At the front of the compound that housed the baby factory, there was a small informal mineral water packeting factory, fully equipped with machines and water packaging boxes everywhere.
But not far behind, behind a few small trees, bushes and oddly built walls and open air passage ways, the baby factory lay. Girls were crammed into four tiny rooms where they slept on nothing but straw mats, without beddings.
The police told us that babies were conceived in these rooms, right on the floor. Girls were often lined up and forced to have sex in full view of other teenage girls, one after the other. The girls were impregnated by an elderly security guard, who watched the gate of the "mineral water packaging factory" during the day. And impregnated the girls at night.
It is also believed that a 23-year-old man found living in the compound was hired by the factory owner to impregnate the girls.
The factory owner, a woman known only as "Madam One Thousand" fled the factory during the raid. But some of the girls showed up at the factory pregnant already.
They were tricked into thinking it was a safe haven for teenage girls who did not want to keep their babies, but did not want an abortion either. They intended to give their babies up for what they thought was a formal adoption. But once they were in the compound, they were held prisoner by Madam One Thousand - and forced to get pregnant again and again and again.
The police have discovered that babies were sold for as little as $600. They are still investigating how many were sold, and where they might have ended up. The pregnant girls have told police everything they know. They are now being given counseling and are being taken care of by Imo State government.
Some of the girls we met are very worried about their future. Some of the girls parents do not even know where they are. But at least now their in safe hands and out of the hands of Madam One Thousand.
Baby-trafficking is becoming a problem in Eastern Nigeria of recent. On Wednesday night a raid in Enugu saw six girls all under 17 freed, from a similar baby factory. And just two weeks ago several pregnant girls were freed from a baby factory in Abia state.
The Nigerian authorities recognise the seriousness of this problem. But a month ago the European Union published a report saying that human trafficking is the third biggest crime in Nigeria.