Heartless young girls litter Ebonyi streets with abandoned babies
From Emmanuel Uzor, Abakaliki
In Ebonyi State, it has become a worrisome phenomenon among residents and government officials.
Each day, you would hardly miss the annoying sights of newly-born babies wrapped in clothes, cellophane bags or carefully kept inside cartons and dropped at strategic places within the state.
Only a few of such babies dumped in the state by their mothers manage to survive the usually harsh weather, ravaging the state at night.
Embarrassed at such heartless vice against innocent children, the state government launched a war on indiscriminate and illegal child-bearing, especially out of wedlock, among unmarried young girls.
The state government, through the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, said it had recovered over 10 such babies abandoned by their parents in various parts of the state from September last year till date.
Director of Child Development in the ministry, Igwe Godwin, said the state government had decided to launch a massive manhunt for young mothers, who give birth to innocent babies out of wedlock and then throw such babies away.
He said over 10 babies had been found in various parts of the state after they were abandoned by their mothers. He said the trend would pose a crisis of identity to the children in future.
Igwe recalled an incident where two babies, male and female were discovered by some individuals in the state. The two babies were named after Governor David Umahi and his wife,
He said David was suspected to have been abandoned by his mother somewhere in Imo State when the woman became a “born again” Christian.
“Preliminary investigation pointed out that the suspected mother of David, who hails from Ebonyi State, got pregnant out of wedlock and gave birth to the baby. So, when she travelled to a church programme somewhere in Imo State, after she gave her life to Christ, she realised it was a sin for her to have a baby out of wedlock, so she abandoned the baby and disappeared,” he explained.
He described David and Rachael’s cases as pathetic, owing to the circumstances surrounding their discovery by the roadside. He said the ministry, in line with the Child Right Act, decided to take custody of the babies and others recovered to enable them have legitimate homes.
Igwe said it was the responsibility of the ministry to ensure that every child, no matter the circumstances of his or her birth, had a legitimate home, adding that the ministry was financing their welfare to ensure that when such child grew up, he or she would not have an identity
“It is the duty of the ministry to act in line with the provision of the Child Right Act to ensure that every child is given a legitimate home, because if you don’t take care of all these things, you will find out that children raised under such conditions would grow up to face discrimination and identity crisis in the society. We wept when David was recovered because he was so cute and handsome. There was nobody that came in contact with this little baby when he was recovered that did not cry. It was more saddening that a mother could be such heartless to abandon such a charming and handsome innocent baby.”
On Rachael Umahi, Igwe said she was discovered also by the police through the help of good citizens, who saw the baby abandoned by her fleeing mother in a dustbin somewhere in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital. He said since David and Rachael were taken to the Red Cross Motherless Babies Home, Abakaliki, they had both been doing well.
He said the ministry, through the Department of Child Development, had been sensitising the public, especially young girls that were victims of unwanted pregnancies not to throw away the babies but quietly bring them to the ministry and save both the child and the mother.
“We have been sensitising people on the dangers of indulging in sexual immorality and the consequences. Every time, we are on the radio and television houses, harping on the matter. We have told them, don’t kill or throw away these babies, bring them to us because if you throw them away, many of them will die before help can get to them. We have severally discovered bodies of babies suspected to have been abandoned by their mothers, who were not as lucky as David, Rachael and the rest of the babies in our custody,” he said.
When the reporter visited the Red Cross Motherless Babies Home, Abakaliki, both David and Rachael were beaming with smiles.
They are six and seven months old, respectively. One thing a visitor would notice immediately was that their beds were being overlooked by the photographs of Governor David Umahi and his wife that were hanging on the walls of the orphanage.
Apart from the cases of David and Rachael, there were other cases of abandoned babies brought to the orphanage by the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, with many other babies being cared for by those that discovered them.
While the cases of abandoned babies were still raging, Ebonyi State Police Command recently smashed a child trafficking syndicate that was into buying and selling of newborn babies across
One of the suspects arrested by the police for allegedly buying babies was a secondary school teacher, (names withheld), who was nabbed at Oburu, in Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi State after she was caught with two babies.
Speaking after handing over the recovered babies to some motherless babies home in Abakaliki, the Desk Officer of National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and Other Related Offences, Mrs. Florence Onwa, said the suspects were arrested following a tip-off that the
woman was in possession of the two babies.
“We went into investigations and discovered that the woman, who is already an elderly woman, had bought two babies. We discovered that she didn’t give birth to any child and none of her relatives gave birth and where she kept the babies was not even in her late husband’s house. She kept them in her sister’s house where we arrested them and recovered the baby girls.”
Mrs. Onwa said that after weeks of thorough investigations, a crack team of the agency in collaboration with operatives of the Special Anti Robbery Squad, SARS, stormed Uburu where they arrested the school principal in her sister’s house and recovered the suspectedly stolen
Though the police didn’t allow the suspects to speak with the reporter, it was gathered that the suspect, who would have retired from the civil service in less than five years, decided to get the babies to enable her get a share of her late husband’s property.
Mrs. Ngozi Obichuwkwu, the Focal Person, Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) described as satanic the act of throwing away innocent babies among young girls. She blamed the habit on the increasing inability of parents to give their female children proper home training.
She said the state government, through the Office of the Wife of the Governor, had initiated so many pet projects all aimed at getting young girls, especially those approaching or just reaching puberty, to be trained on how to handle sex and sexuality.
Mrs. Obichukwu advised mothers to be very careful of the behaviour of their children, especially girls in boarding schools. She said some of the cases of unwanted pregnancies had been traced to young girls of school age living alone while in secondary school.