The Enugu State Police Command on Saturday [Jun 13] rescued nine pregnant girls and women during a raid on a baby factory at the 9th Mile area of the state, PUNCH reports. The Police Public Relations Officer of the command, Mr. Ebere Amaraizu, disclosed that the baby factory was owned and operated by one Ikechukwu Onoh of Etiti, Amakwo-Ngwo Village, in Udi LGA of Enugu.
Onoh and the ladies were taken into police custody after the raid. According to Amaraizu, the factory was run in Onoh’s private residence.
PUNCH Newspaper learnt that operatives of the 9th Mile Division of the command raided the baby factory after monitoring activities in the building over a period. Nine pregnant girls and women rescued from the factory were at various stages of pregnancy.
The ladies were identified as Stella James, 19, from Ohaozara, Ebonyi State; Eze Jennifer, 19, from Obukpa in Nsukka LGA, Enugu State; Ugwu Christabel, 17, a native of Aku, in Igbo-Etiti LGA, Enugu State; Happiness Mbaonu, 17, from Nnewi, Anambra State; and Ovunna Ifeoma, 20, from Ezza, in Ebonyi State. Others were 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 LGA, Enugu State.
The ladies are currently helping the police in ongoing investigations.
However, Onoh claimed that he got a provisional approval in October 2007 from the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development in the state to admit and shelter pregnant women in his hospital, known as Tex Hospital and Maternity Home, which is located at 9th Mile.
Onoh said he decided to keep the pregnant girls in his private residence when the said hospital was closed down. He admitted that although he was supposed to formally inform the ministry within 24 hours of admitting any pregnant woman, he only notified the authorities through phone calls and not in writing. Onoh could not produce any reference letter through which any of the girls was referred to his home. But some of the girls told the police that Onoh took care of them on the basis of an agreement that he would take the babies upon delivery.
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 they 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 said the State Criminal and Intelligence Department of the command was conducting full-scale investigation into the matter.