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NAPTIP nabs childless buyer of baby

The National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has arrested a childless woman for purchasing the son of a mentally challenged lady at N350,000 under an illegal adoption plan.

The baby boy was less than a month old when he was transferred to the 45-year-old woman through a link arranged by her pastor’s wife.

Two sisters of the unstable mother were allegedly complicit in the sale as they assured the pastor’s wife of getting the baby upon delivery, arguing that the child would suffer in the hands of such a mother.

But the N350,000 was not overtly named a payment for the child. The desperate woman seeking the child described it as a gift to help the mother get proper treatment at a hospital, which didn’t happen since the mother ran away with the money.

Limited information was allowed about the actors in this crime as Daniel Atokolo, NAPTIP Lagos commander, at a media conference said the matter was currently facing litigation in court.

The baby buyer had for many years been troubled by childlessness. Her marriage, she said, was shattering before her as she faced a barrage of stigmatisation and mockery from people around her.

She got desperate and decided to ‘adopt’ a baby. Laws in Nigeria require that an adoptive parent must first obtain temporary custody of the child through court processes. The Child’s Right Act, 2003 states that an application for adoption is made to the High Court accompanied with the documents showing information such as where the applicant is a married couple and a medical certificate of the fitness of the applicant from a Government hospital. But this was not the case.

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“I’ve been in marriage for over 10 years. I have tried things medically to see how I can conceive. My marriage is broken, no peace and suffering I didn’t know what else to do. I’m getting aged and I need someone to be around me,” the buyer explained.

I called this my friend to help me get a child I can adopt and train as a child. She called me in November 2019, she told me about the unstable mother that was pregnant. I bought baby materials to prepare for the birth in January. I did a treatment to make me look pregnant. My husband d is not aware. I just told him I gave birth.”

The biological father of the child was unknown, while the unstable mother was at large.

The matter came under the hammer of NAPTIP when a brother of the unstable mother made a report, after suspecting that the wife of the pastor who connected the family to the buyer was denying them interaction with the child.

Child sale has become an internal trafficking menace quietly run in Nigeria. With the proliferation of secret baby factories and a ready market of barren people seeking a child to call theirs, dishonest people are building money-spinning ventures from infant trafficking.

“The illegal avenues also avail unscrupulous elements the opportunity to exploit both helpless young women and their young infants even for ungodly activities such as rituals,” Atokolo said.

Besides exposing the baby sale scheme, the agency also repatriated, Kikelomo Olayide, a 34-year old lady who was trafficked to Lebanon by a 54-year old Lebanese National resident in Lagos.

Under the guise of $200 salary as a caregiver to his aged mother, the Lebanese reportedly handed her to an agent who delivered her to a family as a domestic servant. Olayide said she was exploited, sexually harassed and asked to facilitate to her replacement from Nigeria when she tried to quit. Olayide’s husband in Nigeria sought the help of NAPTIP for her return.

“I ate left-overs in Lebanon and worked as a slave. I urge people to stay back in Nigeria. The country will get back,” the mother of three said.

The prosecution process of the culprits in both cases is on-going, NAPIP Lagos commander said, noting that the agency has adopted a five split strategy including policy, prevention, protection, prosecution and partnership to tackle the trafficking.

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