Concerns Over Sales of Children

EMINENT Nigerians have called for concerted efforts to rid the nation of the evil practice of breeding and selling babies that seemed to be festering in the nation’s orphanage homes. Chief among this class is the Nigeria Governor’s Forum (NGF) as it raised concern over the issue among other sundry issues bedeviling Nigeria at one of its recent meetings.The forum placed the blame for the barbaric act of selling humans at the doorsteps of some American residents buying Nigerian children.

RECALL the United States Department of State and other international bodies have accused Nigeria and some Nigerians of breeding baby factories where children are bought and sold like products. The US officials had also warned perpetrators against the crime in 2023 as it threatened to impose  stringent measures on Nigerians living in America coming to Nigeria to adopt children.Of late, operating orphanage homes has suddenly become a booming business in Nigeria because of the shady deals carried out under the pretense of the humanitarian services. Many of these homes sell off babies under their care to the highest bidders.

ADOPTION is a sensitive issue especially in Nigeria as it is the last resort for people battling infertility and want to have children. To make ill-gotten gains from this crop of people, who are often desperate, most orphanage homes had continued to breed babies for sale,  an act which has been ongoing for a while and nothing has been done to curtail it.The adoption process in Nigeria is seemingly an open book; however, many intending adopters share how tedious the process of adoption is for people who are not ready to cut corners.

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THE  Child Rights Act 2003 (CRA) is the principal legislation regulating adoption in Nigeria, and it sets out the required qualifications for adopting a child. It states that the applicant must not be less than 25 years of age and must be at least 21 years older than the child.Under the CRA, a single person cannot adopt a child, except if he has attained the age of 35 years and he shall only adopt a child that is of the same sex with him/her.

SIMILARLY, married couples, except they have attained the age of 25 years each, will not be granted an adoption order. Nevertheless, a married person may apply for adoption after obtaining a letter of consent from his/her spouse. The CRA provides five steps before an adoption process can be concluded and these include several court processes.

INVESTIGATION reveals that it is cheaper to adopt from Nigeria than abroad which is why many Nigerians in the western countries seeking baby adoption often take the backdoor means. As a means of curtailing this, international adoption from Nigeria has been banned in the United Kingdom.

ALTHOUGH not tenable, the reservations about the difficulty involved in adoption may be one of the reasons why illegal adoption thrives in Nigeria despite national and international censure. Several confirmed and unconfirmed reports have it that people pay to owners of children’s homes to obtain children.

RECENTLY, a Magistrate’s Court in Port Harcourt slammed 10 years imprisonment on 47-year-old, Lois Obazi, a US-based woman for child trafficking.Obazi had in 2018 disguised under a quasi-name, ‘Precious Obasi’ living around Omehia School Road, Igwuruta community in the Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, at the time of her purchase of three children although she claimed that she gave birth to the three children on two different days in a maternity home at Igwuruta.

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ALSO, a popular case of child stealing that was lodged against two officials of the Ondo State Ministry of Women Affairs and Human Development in 2019.According to the Department of Public Prosecution of Ondo State Ministry of Justice, the duo had sold the baby of a mentally ill woman kept in their care at the orphanage to another woman for five million naira.

THE  two officials were arraigned and prosecuted before Justice YemiFasanmi of the Ondo State High Court in 2019 in a protracted criminal trial.At the onset of the trial, the accused persons were ordered by the court to produce the baby but they could not as it had been whisked off to the US by the woman the baby was sold to.

THE concern raised by NGF indicates that the case of baby sales has assumed an international dimension. The Hope wishes to state categorically that sales of children-like market products is barbaric, inhuman and unacceptable and urges those who wish to adopt babies to go through the proper channel.

WE also call on the federal government to unravel those behind the crime of baby sales and punish them appropriately to serve as deterrence to others.The Nigerian government should also look into the laws regarding adoption with a view to amending some of the difficult articles inherent in them to encourage the legitimate adoption of children.

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