Lately orphanages around the country have been turned into business centers where all manners of ills are committed. From baby factories, brothels and child trafficking agencies. Our correspondent OGUNOJEMITE AYODELE and photographer FIDELIS ISIBOR’s investigation reveals more than meet the eyes…
Orphanages are established in Nigeria to serve as a haven for orphans, less privileged and ostristic children. A place where they can be loved and have a sense of belonging. A place where they can see themselves as human beings just like the rest of us, a place where they can be free and freely interact with others, a place where even though they don’t have parents can have a parent figure.
It is however very sad to say that, issues of rape, child trafficking, prostitution and other inhumane and anti-social activities have been reported to be happening in these homes where the children are supposed to be safe, cultured and have a sense of security. It is indeed disheartening to hear of owners of orphanages selling babies in their care and engaging the older ones in prostitution. Others sell children for ritual purposes.
It is not news that top government functionaries, captain of industries, music and movie stars, cooperate organizations and well-meaning Nigerians visit these orphanages from time to time mostly on their birthdays, anniversary and festive periods to give gifts; material and cash to the children. Some orphanages even have partners who sponsor them by contributing either annually, bi-annually, quarterly etc for the children to be comfortable. Walking into the building of these homes you will see bags of rice, cartons of drinks, gallons of vegetable oil, cartons of biscuits, cartons of juice, cartons of maggi and so many other items donated by people and organizations to them.
According to a reliable source who works at one of these orphanages, we were made to understand that these donations come regularly and in large quantity. The question on the lips of people is “what do they do with all these items? Is it the children that consume all these food items or they sell the excess and pocket the money?”
In Lagos recently, a 52 years old woman confessed to buying babies which she sells to barren women. The human trafficker who identified herself as Oyinye comes from Onitsha to buy babies in Lagos. She told the police that she buys stolen children from homes and orphanage during her confession.
Investigations have proven that most of the baby factories found in Abia, Lagos and Ondo States in the last nine months started as orphanages or Save Our Soul (SOS) homes. The owners of these orphanages say they were set up on humanitarian grounds to take orphans off the streets and save the society of unknowingly bringing up street urchins, miscreants, hoodlums and armed robbers.
But along the line the aim of setting up the SOS and orphanages changed as the love for money influenced their idea as they were converted to baby factories. The owners of some of these orphanages admit teenagers who are pregnant and cater for them till they put to bed after which the sell the babies delivered. Worst still they admit teenage girls who at first come as employees and later are made to work as commercial sex workers. Those of them who end up taking in deliver babies who are in turn sold to potential buyers. So it is win-win or gain-gain for the owners of the orphanages who most times even arrange with the buyers on long term deals.
The buyers of these babes book in advance. Some book for as a year earlier with specific description of the kind of child and gender they want. Though affected state governments have swung into action to close down some of these baby factories but members of the public say it is not enough as they have suggested life jail term for offenders which must include the owners of the factories, the buyers, workers in the factories and the girls who give birth to the babies.
National Weekender gathered that some of the girls are promised trips abroad and that lures them into working in the orphanages. The girls also end up working as commercial sex workers in Italy, Norway, Sweden and Belgium where the owners of the baby factories have agents. Indeed it is cartel that operates like the drug dealers and barons. The girls who have served for long and have given birth to as much as four children which are all sold qualify for the trip abroad where they go into full time prostitution still under the watchful eyes of their senders and agents.
It is said that the girls most times take oath of allegiance to the persons that send them. And the oath is binding on them forever. National Weekender gathered that some of the girls are promised trips abroad and that lures them into working in the orphanages. The girls also end up working as commercial sex workers in Italy, Norway, Sweden and Belgium where the owners of the baby factories have agents. Indeed it is cartel that operates like the drug dealers and barons. The girls who have served for long and have given birth to as much as four children which are all sold qualify for the trip abroad where they go into full time prostitution still under the watchful eyes of their senders and agents.
It is said that the girls most times take oath of allegiance to the persons that send them. And the oath is binding on them forever. In other words if they later decides to quit the satanic business they may die. Our source who pleaded anonymity and is a victim says that, “the owners of these so called orphanages but are in real sense baby factories get most of the girls from Edo, Akwa Ibom and Cross River States. These girls are hypnotized and made to take oath with either their hair or finger nails which are cut and grinded with herbs and other materials. Death is the only option if they dare quit the job. On my part I am just lucky to approach a pastor who delivered me through prayers from the shackles of these monsters.
by victim of orphanage malady
My sad story began when I was asked to come to Lagos to work as a waiter in a restaurant run by my aunt’s friend. I am actually an orphan as my parents died years ago. My father died when I was four months I was told and my mother died in 1998 when I was 7 years. It was my mother’s sister who I was living with in Eket that handed me over to her friend in December 1999. We came to Lagos and that was how my trouble started.
“From working in the restaurant during the day, I will retire home to work at night as men would come home to sleep with me under the watchful eyes of my supposed aunt. This continued for so long until one day a female neighbor who understood what was going on and sympathized with me advised me to run away. And when asked her where I can run to since I have no where or whom to run to more so, she cannot she cannot harbor me since we are neighbors. She was actually working. So she gave me the address of an orphanage.
“Getting there I was admitted and I was enrolled into a school within the orphanage facility but little did I know that my real trouble just started. The owner of the orphanage came to us one day and asked that we would all be medically examined to know our health status. And when the tests were conducted by our supposed teachers in school who were all men, I became suspicious and furious. My anger stemmed from the fact that what transpired was more of a blue film. And once they discovered that I was very through the owner of the orphanage invited me and asked me for how long I have been sleeping with men. I told her my sad tale. But rather than pity me and help in rehabilitating me she used me further to make money through her customers who pretended to be our teachers.
‘It was later that I discovered that the water we used to drink and bath with were mixed with diabolical materials meant to hypnotize us that even if we understood what was happening to us we cannot speak out. In 2011 I was sent to Italy. We were 5 that made the trip. We got to Italy and the real prostitution started. We were kept in one house owned by the agent who is the leader of the cartel. She is also a Nigerian but controls the so called orphanage in Lagos. I won’t mention the name of the orphanage because those who run it now work in different government agencies after it was closed down. But it is around Isolo-Ire-Akari axis.
“In Italy our passports were seized. In fact as at that time I don’t even know what international passport was. Men came home to sleep with us at will and the monies were paid to the leader of the cartel, the woman controlling the business both locally and internationally. It was in May 2012 that one strange man whose face I have never seen in our Italy prostitution grotto. As we were in the room with my clothes off and I was naked waiting for him, suddenly he told me that he came to release me from my bondage.
“He eventually helped out of the place which is in Cagliari, Italy. Later I discovered that he is a pastor working with Pastors Without Borders. He gave me the details of whom I will meet when I returned back to Nigeria. Some how he sneaked me into Nigeria because I told him that I really wanted to return home even though he wanted me to live in Italy and join the crusade to spread the gospel. I told him that I will prefer to do that in Nigeria. I came back and met the Pastor and the rest is history. Today I am a real worker in the house of God. I was told to just forgive those who have dragged me into the disgraceful past but not to mention their names or attempt to fight back or lodge any complain to security agents or Human Right Commission or activists. I thank God for my life today but I needed to tell you my brief story to support your investigation and to reveal that a lot is really happening under the sun.
”Some so called orphanages are serious terror camps. Some are true baby factories while others are mini-slave camps from where children are moved abroad to go into prostitution.”