20-year-old Precious Ihemine, a JSS 2 student from Abia State, claims that her boyfriend impregnated and abandoned her.
Ihemine is in police custody in Asaba, Delta State capital, where she is not finding it easy to free herself from police allegations of engaging in baby trafficking, following her arrest at the home of a polyethene packaging materials producer, John Mary Ihezue, who she claims is her employer.
Arrested with her is another 20-year old, Blessing Okafor, who was also impregnated by her lover in a certain village in Enugu State. Both pregnant 20-year-olds were nabbed with six other ladies and two boys, when the police stormed the home-cum-business premises of Ihezue, who the police
accused of running a baby factory.
But the suspects have stoutly denied the allegation, stating that they were just working for Ihezue in his polythene factory and computer business, to earn legitimate income.
Narrating how her ordeal began, Okafor told Sunday Sun that her parents chased her out when she got pregnant. She further revealed that one of her friends brought her to Ihezue in Asaba, where she could work and earn income until the delivery of the baby.
“We work for Ihezue. He has a polyethene making machine and computer business. I got pregnant in my village. The boy responsible for the pregnancy ran away. It was his friend who told me that he went to Abuja. This is my first pregnancy,” she said.
On her part, Ihemine said her sister who resides in Asaba brought her to Ihezue, where she could stay, because her sister’s husband refused to allow her live with his nuclear family.
“My sister is living in Asaba and when I got pregnant, she brought me to this man’s house because her husband refused to allow me stay with them. She asked me to stay with this man until I deliver the baby.
“The man who got me pregnant, Emeka, denied it and abandoned me. Nobody promised to pay me any money after delivering the baby. I have been in his house since March. I do not go for antenatal care and no doctor comes around for such care.
“He (Ihezue) cooks for me and I work for him. He promised to be paying me N15,000 every month as salary. He employed us and gave us accommodation,” she said.
The other suspects, Nkemjika Ihezue, Okeke Nmesoma, Chioma Oje and Nzube Chukwu, who also spoke with the Sunday Sun, denied the allegation that they were engaged in baby trafficking. They insisted that they were just employees working for Ihezue in his polythene factory.
Nkemjika told our correspondent that she is related to Ihezue and works in his polyethene factory, adding that she was about to re-fuel the generator, when the police stormed the compound and arrested her.
Stoutly denying the allegation, Nkemjika said:
“I am not pregnant. The house is my brother’s house. The police arrested me in the house when I was re-fuelling the generator because the boys were not around. I am not making babies; I am 19 years old.
Also speaking in her own defence and debunking the accusation by the police, Okeke Nmesoma denied being pregnant or having any intention to get pregnant stressing that she only came to Asaba from Onitsha, where she resides, in response to an advertisement about a vacancy in the polyethene factory owned by Ihezue.
“I came to Asaba for employment in the polyethene business. I am not pregnant. I came to the house and saw the pregnant ladies there. Nobody directed me to the place, I came on my own. I saw a poster in Onitsha advertising for workers and I called the number and I was directed to Asaba. I live at Onitsha. I came to Asaba in July and got the appointment. At that time the machine broke down and they said they wanted to repair it, which has been done. The employment came with accommodation. I stay with my co-workers and I noticed that some of them happen to be pregnant,” Nmesoma said.
In the same vein, the two boys arrested with the ladies, Nwankwo Obum and Prince Okechukwu, accused of being responsible for impregnating the ladies denied the allegation, maintaining that they were just workers like their female counterparts.
Meanwhile, the man in the eye of the storm, Ihezue who hails from Ideato Local Government Area of Imo State, said he is a caregiver and a reverend brother in the Catholic Church.
He maintained that the polyethene business was his source of income, which he use to pay for the rented apartment where he and his workers live. He insisted that he was not operating an illegal business.
“We have started production of polyethene. We have been working; our only problem was that the machine broke down not too long ago. All the workers are new and we are just trying to re-start production. It is not true that we operate a factory where pregnant ladies come and deliver their babies, which are then sold; that is not true.
“I am a reverend brother in the Catholic Church. I am not married. As a brother, we are consecrated to God to give our lives wholly and entirely to God. I trained as a reverend brother at Ohum Monastery in Enugu. I was made a brother in1994,” he said.
Asked why he is not serving in any Catholic parish, hospital or school, the suspect said Rome gave him
“a sort of concession so that I can live alone and help people. I am somebody who is a care giver, I love helping people.I cannot boast about it, it is only God that I am serving who knows what is in my mind. I am not married and I am not insane. I know that the only thing that will take me to heaven is doing charitable work.
“I don’t think there is anything that can attract me in this world since I am not married. I am not operating anything illegal, it is my home where I am staying and I have a factory from where I generate money to pay the rent.”
He explained that the pregnant ladies came seeking for help and he decided to help them because of his philanthropic nature, adding:
“If they have nobody to help them, and I have the heart and willing to help, I think I can help them. For this one (pointing to one of the pregnant ladies) the sister brought her here because her husband could not accommodate her as a result of the pregnancy. She begged me to allow her stay here because they know I always help people. She brought her here for me to protect her.”