The Akwa Ibom State Police Command has arrested a prophetess and owner of Jubilant Garden Ministries, Ms Grace Akpan, for allegedly operating a baby factory.
The police were said to have arrested Akpan along with five young ladies and four men around 4am on Friday from the supposed baby factory on High Tension Street, Edet Akpan Avenue, Uyo.
The Commissioner of Police, Mr. Umar Gwadabe, said on Tuesday that Akpan operated the baby factory under the guise of running a religious organisation, Jubilant Garden Ministries.
He explained that Akpan accommodated teenage ladies and young men for the purpose of raising babies for sale and human trafficking.
He said, “Following an intelligence report, which was monitored by the State Criminal Investigation Department operatives, a woman, Prophetess Grace Akpan, was arrested about 4am on High Tension Street, by Four Lane, Edet Akpan Avenue, Uyo.
“The woman was arrested for operating a baby factory under the guise of a religious organisation called Jubilant Garden Ministries, where teenagers and young men were housed for the sole purpose of raising babies for sale and human trafficking.
“In view of some reported cases of child stealing and abduction of children in the state, we have resolved to act decisively by arresting these criminals. They will soon appear in court to serve as deterrent to others.”
The girls are Blessing Paul, 14 (pregnant); Patience Etim, 17 (pregnant); Margaret Effiong, 20 (pregnant); Emmanuelle Effiong, 18 (pregnant); and Esther Effiong, 21, who has a male child, Unos Effiong (1 year).
The male suspects are Ndifreke Umana, 31; Ezekiel Umana, 29; Godstime Johnson, 18, and Ukeme Etim, 20.
The police urged the residents of the state to cooperate with the police by giving useful information that would help in stamping out lawlessness and disorder.
However, the prophetess said that the pregnant girls were married and were brought to the church by their parents for spiritual assistance.
She said, “They (the police) said people told them that I have so many pregnant women in my care and that they don’t know the reason.
“For goodness’ sake, I am a trained birth attendant. I have a certificate from St. Louis Hospital.
“The pregnant women were brought to the church by their parents, who saw that their problems could only be resolved spiritually.
“Some had swollen legs, some of them were bleeding before their parents brought them to us. Some of them were brought to the church by their husbands.”
Paul, the 14-year-old pregnant teenager, said she was married, adding that her husband brought her to the church.
The teenage girl, however, did not know the name of her husband when she was asked her to mention his name.