A cleric and 16 pregnant women have been arrested by operatives of the Rivers State Police Command.
The suspects were arrested after operatives of the Command raided a suspected baby factory in Port Harcourt belonging to the cleric identified as Glory Raphael.
Apart from the 16 pregnant girls, three other persons helping the cleric to run the baby factory were also apprehended.
The State Commissioner of Police, Zaki Ahmed, told newsmen on Saturday that Raphael was engaged in child trafficking in the guise of operating a legal business.
Ahmed, who had earlier paraded 39 suspected armed robbers, kidnappers and cultists in Port Harcourt, said that the police were able to get hold of the hoodlums through the efforts of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, State Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department.
“Men of the Criminal intelligence and Investigation Department in a sting operation on Friday stormed the premises of one Gloria Raphael, who is the General Overseer of Mount Sinai Ministry at Rukpokwu. She is into the business of child trafficking.
“Sixteen pregnant women awaiting delivery and onward sale of the children to the waiting buyers were arrested. One of them by name Chinyere Nweke had labour yesterday (Friday) and was rushed to the police clinic where she gave birth to a baby girl,” Ahmed said.
Southern City News observed that those arrested were below 18 years, but were pregnant.
When asked why she was arrested, Gloria Raphael stated, “There was a day my sister, Esther Joseph, called me to come and help her; that somebody was sick.
“So, they brought the girl. She brought two other girls to me and they were having discharge. I gave them to a midwife to deliver them. Some of the girls came for prayers; they have husbands.”
One of the young pregnant women, Sandra Solomon, explained that she was told that she could sell her baby to a church when she discovered that she was pregnant.
Miss Solomon stated that she followed an agent to the church because she had no person to help her through her condition.
“I became pregnant and I did not know what to do. So, a lady told me that they sell babies in that church and I came there. The woman did not tell me how much they sell. I don’t want to sell my baby. As we were sleeping in the church, police came and arrested all of us,” she added.
Also, a 17-year-old pregnant girl, Favour Gabriel, disclosed that the man that impregnated her took her to the cleric and promised to take her back as soon as she was delivered of her baby.