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Nigeria frees six pregnant girls in baby factory raid

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An abandoned ward at Nigeria's Moonlight Maternity Clinic, raided by paramilitary operatives for allegedly engaging in baby trafficking, in the southeastern Nigerian city of Enugu on August 5, 2013 - Copyright : AFP/File

Lagos (AFP)

Nigerian police have raided a baby factory in the oil city of Port Harcourt and arrested a woman accused of harbouring six pregnant girls, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

“We rescued six girls last week at different stages of pregnancy from an illegal maternity home in Port Harcourt,” Joy Elomoko of the Imo State police told AFP.

She said the youngest of the girls was 14, without disclosing the ages of the others.

“We have also arrested the proprietress of the clinic and she is assisting us in our investigation,” she said.

Elomoko said the raid on the Port Harcourt home followed the arrest of a girl with a baby in nearby Owerri on October 15.

“A lady was found in suspicious circumstances with a day old baby and after interrogation she confessed that she gave birth to a baby in Port Harcourt,” the police spokeswoman said.

Elomoko said police detectives followed the girl to Port Harcourt where six expectant mothers were found in a clinic run by a woman.

“The woman could not produce any document authorising her to operate the clinic and she was subsequently arrested,” she said.

She said the girls also told police that they were being kept in the home to make babies which would be sold to willing buyers.

Elomoko said the suspect would be taken to court after police investigation.

Nigerian police have uncovered a series of alleged baby factories in recent years, notably in the southeastern part of the country. Baby boys can sell for a price of around $250 (180 euros), baby girls for slightly less.

Human trafficking, including the selling of children, is the third most common crime in Nigeria behind fraud and drug trafficking, according to the United Nations

Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer, but poverty is widespread across the country and most of the estimated 160 million people still live on less than two dollars a day.

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