Nigerian 'factory' babies bought and sold
FOR nine months, the midwife had been giving the woman herbs to take and several things indicated she was indeed pregnant. Her stomach had swelled, so had her feet.
She had spent many years trying to conceive and now, at 61, she was finally with child, twins in fact - or so she thought.
Even when it came time to give birth, the woman still believed she was an expectant mother. She went back to the midwife, was given seeds to chew and started feeling drowsy.
The woman, Desope Cecilia, says the midwife told her to start pushing and that soon after she heard the cry of one baby and then another. Her miracle babies.
There was even blood, making the delivery scenario all the more real.
It wasn't until some time later, when she took the twins to be immunised, that someone smelled a rat and alerted authorities.
Tests confirmed that Cecilia was not the mother of the two babies.
She had paid 1.5 million naira ($9800) for the services of the midwife, Oby George, in Port Harcourt in Nigeria's south.
She had never been to a hospital to have a scan of any kind during her so-called pregnancy because the midwife had told her not to.
Apparently, she told Cecilia the scan would show nothing because she was carrying a "miracle" pregnancy.
Miracle indeed - a $9800 miracle which was highly illegal.
Cecilia wasn't the midwife's only victim.
Joy Ibe, 43, also wanted babies - miracle triplets. She paid about $17,500.
But despite having a protruding stomach and swollen feet, she never got to "give birth".
She was at the midwife's home when police arrived.
She too had been told not to go to the hospital for scans or check-ups.
So desperate were both women for children that they were willing to fork out huge sums of money to a dodgy midwife.
Both claim they had no idea their pregnancies were not real.
In Cecilia's case, she truly believed she had given birth.
It seems that the herbs the women were prescribed formed a kind of large tumour in the stomach, causing the protrusion and the belief that it was a pregnant belly.
George has apparently said she doesn't remember how many such miracle babies she has delivered. Police suspect it's many.
George and her two victims were revealed to the media by police in Lagos a week ago.
George was paraded and her victims, their faces covered, answered questions about their ordeals.
The revelation comes in the same month as Nigerian police uncovered and raided two so-called "baby factories".
It's not known where the babies George was delivering came from but it is known that unscrupulous types have been holding young women and teenage girls basically hostage and forcing them to have babies, which are then sold.
Based on the accounts of the victims, some are forced to become pregnant at the factories and others are brought to the factory already pregnant and told they will be paid for their babies.
This has been an easy way to lure young, unmarried women who face shame in their communities as a result of such pregnancies.
One baby factory was in Imo State, in the southeast, where 20 pregnant teenage girls and 11 babies were found. Local media reported the girls told police they had been made pregnant by a young man at the compound.
Another baby factory was uncovered in Enugu State about the same time. Six young pregnant girls were found and the owner reportedly told police that he was doing a service for childless couples. Not medically trained, he was apparently delivering the babies himself.
Authorities believe the two operations uncovered with pregnant girls are not the only baby factories out there.
They have vowed to hunt down others who are also taking advantage of young, poor and vulnerable teenagers and of women desperate for babies.
Such rackets are nothing new in Nigeria and especially in the southeastern region.
A multitude of problems and poor systems allow the baby factories to exist and flourish.
But the bottom line is this: Babies are little humans and they shouldn't be sold and traded, like apples at the market.