The search for the fruit of the womb has driven many women to take extreme steps.
When women are unable to conceive and bear children, the huge psychological toll makes them fall prey to fraudulent people and patrons of ‘baby factories’.
Desope Cecilia, 61, and Joy Ibe, 43, were among victims of a midwife, Oby George, who promised them ‘miracle’ twins and triplets respectively.
While the midwife was being paraded before journalists at the Lagos State Police Command, Ikeja, on Friday, the victims told their stories, with faces covered for security reasons.
Cecilia said she had not been able to give her 78-year-old husband a child since they got married.
She stated, “A lady who knew I had tried to conceive without success for a long time, told me about the midwife (George). The lady gave me the phone number of the woman and I learnt her clinic is in Port Harcourt.
“When I got there in March 2012, she explained to me that she would be able to treat me with herbs and I would get pregnant. I was told to pay N1.5m, which I paid to her.
“She gave me some herbs to take back to Lagos with me and take for nine months. I took the herbs religiously. My tummy began to swell, and my feet too. Those were the only signs I had that made me think I was pregnant.”
Cecilia explained that George forbade her from going for any form of ante-natal session or scan.
So, within the nine-month period that her tummy protruded like that of a pregnant woman, she visited no hospital.
“The midwife told me not to go for any scan or ante-natal care. She told me that if I did, they would not see anything because what I was carrying was a ‘miracle’ pregnancy,” she said.
Asked if she ever saw any sign associated like lactation during the period, Cecillia said she never knew it was a fake pregnancy.
“I thought it was normal. Since my belly was growing bigger and my feet swell up, I thought I was indeed pregnant,” she said.
In her ninth month, Cecilia embarked on her delivery journey to the house used by George as clinic for her ‘miracle deliveries’ in Omiagbo, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
When she arrived the house, the midwife prepared her for delivery with another round of concoctions.
“She also gave me a strange seed. I don’t know what it is called. When I chewed the seeds, I had to go to the toilet for bowel movement. She also gave me a drug that made me very tired.
“I was laid on a bed after that. The midwife asked me to start pushing. I began to push really hard. I was half-conscious. Suddenly, I heard the cry of a baby, then another.”
Cecilia said she left George’s clinic, thinking she had indeed been blessed with ‘miracle twins’.
Police Public Relations Officer, Lagos State Command, Ngozi Braide, told journalists that on April 16, 2013, Cecilia took the twins for immunisation at the Amuwo Odofin Health Centre, Lagos.
“But the medical officials at the centre were suspicious that Cecilia was not the biological mother of the twins. They then alerted the Area A Police Command. During investigation, she told the police that they were ‘miracle babies’.
“Our men got the address of the midwife and went to Port Harcourt, where she was arrested. Investigation still continues to ensure we apprehend other members of her cartel. The twins are currently with the SOS Children’s Village, Isolo,” Braide said.
Our correspondent learnt that the second victim (Ibe) was found in George’s house when the police got there.
In Ibe’s case, she wanted triplets. For that, she had to pay N2.7m to George for the babies.
Like Cecilia, Ibe was referred to George by a friend. She contacted the midwife few months after Cecilia did.
“After I went to Port Harcourt to meet the midwife, I paid the N2.7m and I was given some herbs which I drank as concoction regularly.
“My belly began to grow and my feet became swollen too. The midwife told me not to go to the hospital for scan or any ante-natal. I went to Port Harcourt to ask when I would be due for delivery.
“She told me I was not due yet. Since it was too late to go back to Lagos, I slept over at her house. It was when I was there that police came to arrest her.”
No one could have doubted that both Ibe and Cecilia were pregnant as both women appeared with swollen tummies and feet.
George said her business was “helping women who want to get pregnant.”
She told journalists, “I am 50 years old. I have been doing this business for over a year. In the case of the other woman (Cecilia), I was not the one who provided the babies.
“Helen Okoro, who introduced her to me, was the one who brought the twins and we made it look like she was the one who delivered them. It is true I collected N1.5m from her and N2.7m from the other woman.
“The herb I give them was to induce the swollen tummies and feet. Helen Okoro has run away now.”
But George dodged questions as she was being interviewed by journalists.
When asked about the name of the herbs and seeds she gave to her customers, she replied, “I don’t know.”
Asked how many of such women she had ever ‘delivered’, she answered, “I cannot remember.”
Curiously, Cecilia said she was bleeding like a freshly delivered mother during her ‘delivery’.
George provided a frightening insight into how this was made possible.
“When we asked her to push, we used a blade to cut part of her private part, so that she would bleed,” she said.
George denied knowledge of where the babies given to Cecilia came from. She said Okoro was responsible for that part of the deal.
This case is coming on the heels of the recent discovery of some baby factories in Abia and Enugu recently.
The police have yet to confirm if the babies involved in this case were bought from one of such factories.