The proprietor denied any wrongdoing.
The Department of State Security Service (SSS) in Abia said it has arrested 16 pregnant inmates and the proprietor of an alleged ‘baby factory’ in Umungasi, Aba, the commercial hub of the state.
The state Director of SSS, Matthew Obodoechi, told newsmen that the proprietor, Ndudim Orikara, is now in custody.
Mr. Obodoechi said that the expectant mothers, whose ages ranged between 17 and 37, and the proprietor, were arrested on Monday and Wednesday, respectively following intelligence reports in Aba.
He alleged that the proprietor, who owned a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), called Cross Foundation International, keeps pregnant women.
According to him, the proprietor keeps pregnant women, who upon delivery, are given a paltry sum of N50, 000 and sent away; while their babies are sold to people from different parts of the country.
The SSS director said that the investigation so far conducted by the officers and men of the service, showed that some of the women were brought to the foundation by their relatives and friends. He mentioned the case of a particular woman, who secretly took her daughter to the place, because she did not want her husband to know that their daughter was pregnant.
Mr. Obodoechi called on the Abia House of Assembly to enact a law, with stiffer punishment for culprits, in order to serve as deterrent to others. He said that those arrested in connection with the act would be prosecuted by the organisation in conjunction with the police and other relevant security agencies in the state.
The SSS boss warned those who hide under the guise of NGOs to perpetrate crimes and other illegalities, to desist forthwith or be ready to face the full wrath of the law.
“Members of the public should assist security agents with useful information that will help us to permanently deal with the phenomenon,” he said.
A cross-section of the inmates said that they were catered for by the foundation, pending when they would be delivered of their babies.
Ifunanya Nwankworie, a 25-year-old student of Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, who hails from Ikpoku in Rivers, said that she was impregnated said that she was impregnated by a man in Jos, adding that she came to the foundation from Jos, following a friend’s advice.
The proprietor, who denied engaging in acts of illegality, said that the foundation was running a programme on “Nurse your own baby’’, as part of the efforts to check the abandoned baby syndrome in society.
He said that the NGO was registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission, to cater for the welfare of women with unwanted pregnancies.