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Pregnant women rescued from 'baby factory'

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LAGOS: Nigerian police have raided a home and freed 16 pregnant young women who were allegedly being forced to have babies to be offered for sale for trafficking or other purposes, police say.

The expectant mothers were aged between 17 and 37.

Abia state police spokesman Geofrey Ogbonna told AFP the raid in the southern city of Aba was carried out on Tuesday and the proprietor, Hyacinth Ndudim Orikara, had been arrested.

"The suspect is a serial human trafficker. He claims to be a medical doctor. I could recall that the same man was arrested in May 2011 and 32 teenage girls were rescued from his home," he said.

He said the girls confessed that they had been offered to sell their babies for between 25,000 and 30,000 naira (around $A216), depending on the sex of the baby.

Ogbonna said the previous incident had been referred to the state-run agency fighting human trafficking, the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons.

"I don't know what became of the matter and now he has been arrested again for the same offence," he said.

A spokesman for the anti-trafficking agency said it did not have jurisdiction over such cases and had handed the man back to police.

Nigerian security agents have uncovered a series of alleged baby factories in recent years, notably in the southeastern part of the country.

Human trafficking is widespread in west Africa, where children are bought from their families to work in plantations, mines and factories, or as domestic help.

Others are sold into prostitution, and less commonly they are tortured or sacrificed in black magic rituals.

AFP

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