Enugu moves against ‘baby factories’
Enugu State governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, has inaugurated a committee to clamp down on illegal maternity homes, otherwise known as baby factories operating in the state.
Ugwuanyi, while inaugurating the committee on Monday in Enugu, charged the team to work out modalities for setting up a trust fund to cater for abandoned children.
He regretted that, in spite of enabling laws for abandoned children’s welfare, there has been an increase in number of illegal maternity homes.
He said, “It is the obligation of society to treat children as special; irrespective of the circumstances of their birth, children are to be loved and cared for until they can fend for themselves. But they are now being sold like commodities and, as a responsible government, we cannot allow this to continue to exist in Enugu state.”
Ugwuanyi harped on the need for strict compliance to due process in adoption of babies to guarantee their security, urging the committee to propose effective laws to protect children and young person’s as well as to improve the quality of child justice administration.
He charged officials of the Ministry of Gender Affairs to monitor and report incidents of child abuse and trafficking, and to identify places where illegal adoptions were carried out.
Ugwuanyi charged the team to be diligent in discharging their duties and also appealed to members of the public to accord them necessary support.
Responding, the committee’s chairman and Archbishop of the Anglican Province, Enugu, Bishop Emmanuel Chukwuma, described the task as enormous, as successive administrations had considered the idea in the past but couldn’t muster the will to tackle the menace head-on.
“This is an area we have trodden before and are happy that you have pushed for the passage of the Child Rights Act by the State House of Assembly. We had earlier closed down some illegal maternity homes but they sprang up again because the committee could not continue its work,” he said.
Chukwuma said that incidence of child trafficking and illegal adoption were on the rise because some security agencies and unscrupulous official of the State Ministry of Gender Affairs aided the perpetrators.
He said that the committee would liaise with religious organisations, traditional rulers, Security agencies as well as the National Agency for the Prohibition and Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) to achieve good results.