Nigerian police have raided an alleged illegal orphanage where they rescued young women thought to have been forced to bear children with the aim of selling them, a spokesman said on Friday.
“We discovered the baby factory in [the] Uruah local government area of the state during a raid following a tip-off,” assistant police superintendent Oyekachi Orji said of the operation in southern Akwa Ibom State.
He said seven women between the ages of 18 and 20, including three who were pregnant, were freed from the home during the April 4 operation. No babies were discovered.
Three suspects, including the owner, his wife and another accomplice were arrested, he said.
“The suspects usually lure young girls to get pregnant with a promise of 70,000 naira [US$445] after having their babies, which they sell to ritualists,” he said.
A number of such “factories” have been discovered Nigeria, often intending to sell children to childless couples.
One of the young mothers said that she had contacted the owner of the home with the intention of having an abortion, but he convinced her to stay until she gave birth.
“The doctor gave me 70,000 naira,” the Nigerian press quoted the woman as saying. She also said the baby was taken away from her right after the birth.
This is not the only baby factory that has been uncovered in Nigeria.
In October last year police found 17 pregnant teenagers in a home in the southern state of Anambra.
Several months earlier 32 pregnant teens were discovered in southern Nigeria in places run by a foundation that has been accused of forcing young women to give up their children for sale.
Human trafficking is widespread in West Africa, where children are bought from their families to work in plantations, mines and factories or as domestic help.
Others are sold into prostitution and less commonly they are tortured or sacrificed in black magic rituals.