No fewer than nine pregnant girls and women were on Saturday discovered in a baby factory at the 9th Mile area of Enugu State during a raid by the police.
It was gathered by the Police Public Relations Officer, Enugu State Police Command, Mr. Ebere Amaraizu, that the baby factory was owned and operated by one Ikechukwu Onoh, of Etiti, Amakwo-Ngwo village, in Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State.
Onoh and the ladies were taken into police custody after the raid. According to Amaraizu, the factory was run in the Onoh’s private residence. Punch correspondent learnt that operatives of the 9th Mile Division of the command raided the baby factory after monitoring activities in the building over a period of time.
Nine pregnant girls and women seen in the factory were at various stages of pregnancy.The ladies were identified as Stella James, 19, from Ohaozara, Ebonyi State; Eze Jennifer, 19, of Obukpa in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State; Ugwu Christabel, 17, a native of Aku, in Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area of Enugu State; Happiness Mbaonu, 17, from Nnewi, Anambra State, and Ovunna Ifeoma, 20, from Ezza, in Ebonyi State.
Others are Esther Nwankwo, 21, a native of Nkalagu, in Ebonyi State; Onyedika Agu, 23, of Isuawa, Awgu in Enugu State; Blessing James, 23, from Ohafia, Abia State, and Chibueze Ujunwa, 24, from Aninri Local Government Area of Enugu State.The ladies are currently helping the police in ongoing investigations.
However, the owner of the ‘factory,’ Onoh, claimed that he got a provisional approval in October 2007 from the ministry of women affairs and social development in Enugu State to admit and shelter pregnant women in his hospital, known as ‘Tex Hospital and Maternity Home,’ which was located at 9th Mile. Onoh said he decided to keep the pregnant ladies in his private residence when the said hospital closed down. He admitted that, although he was supposed to formally inform the ministry of women affairs and social development within 24 hours of admitting any pregnant woman, he only notified the authorities through phone calls, and not in writing.Also, he was not able to produce any reference letter through which any of the ladies was referred to his home. But some of the girls, who opened up to the police, said Onoh takes care of them, but on the basis of an agreement that he will take the babies upon delivery. Ugwu Christabel, who claimed she got pregnant after she was raped, said her aunt directed her to Onoh’s residence.She said her parents wanted to marry her off to an old man because of the ‘unwanted’ pregnancy.
Christabel further explained that the ladies usually gave Onoh a list of items they needed, which he would purchase for them.Another girl, Happiness Mbaonu, said she was impregnated by an unknown man, who took her home when she was stranded at Holy Ghost Park in Enugu.She also said ‘somebody’ referred her to Onoh’s house.
The police spokesman, Amaraizu, said the State Criminal and Intelligence Department of the command is conducting full scale investigations into the matter.