OWERRI – The Imo State House of Assembly on Wednesday began moves to check the incidences of baby racketeering, factories and every other arrangement by which babies are sold.
The bill was sponsored by the Committee Chairman on Women Affairs, Mrs Adaku Iheoma, representing (APC Aboh Mbaise).
Presenting the bill on the floor of the House, Ihuoma said its objective was to criminalise every form of baby racketeering which had not been captured in the Child Rights Act.
Iheoma stated that the bill was expected to prohibit the sale of babies under any guise as well as protect the rights of children from conception to birth.
“The catering for pregnant women with the aim of selling their babies upon their delivery will also be prohibited.’’
Iheoma, who is also the Majority Leader of the House, also pointed out that the incident of baby factories had become rampant.
The bill recommended a prison term of five years or an option of N5 million fine, the shutdown of the premises used for the business and the confiscation of the property by the government.
She called for a speedy passage of the bill to dissuade perpetrators of the heinous crime from continuing.
Contributing to the motion, the member representing Orsu State Constituency, Mr Stan Dara (PDP), said the option of fine should be removed.
Dara said offenders would want to avoid a jail term due to the provision of a fine, and called for a stiffer punishment.
Also contributing, Mr Celestine Ngaobiwu (Obowo PDP), supported the bill and called for life imprisonment for offenders without any option of fine.
In her contribution, another member of the House, Mrs Ngozi Pat-Ekeji, called for the sack of any government employee involved in baby racketeering.
Also in support of the bill, Mr Emeka Nwofor, (APC Ngor-Okpala) called for proper enlightenment of the public to ensure that people were fully aware of the consequences of the act.
The Deputy Speaker of the House, Mr Donatus Ozoemena (APC Oru West) who presided over plenary, then set up a five-man committee headed by Barr. Victor Mere (PDP Isu) to handle the bill.
Ozoemena charged the members of the committee to handle the bill objectively by convening a public hearing on the bill which he described as sensitive.
The committee had been given three weeks to submit their report to the House.
Other members of the committee are; Mrs Ngozi Pat-Ekeji (Ahiazu Mbaise PDP), Chino Obioha (APC Njaba), Robertson Ekwebelem ( PDP Onuimo), and Victor Mere (APGA Owerri Municipal).
In another development, the House also confirmed Mr Clinton Ihejiagwa as the Interim Management Chairman of Orsu Local Government Area, following his screening by a three-man committee.
The committee was headed by Ikechukwu Amuka (APC Ideato South). (NAN)