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Tackling cerebro-spinal meningitis menace: Wither the Nigerian Academy of Science?

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In just a couple of weeks of its latest outbreak in Nigeria, the cerebrospinal meningitis [CSM] disease has killed more citizens than any other epidemic in the country’s contemporary health history – with well over 817 deaths and a frightening 8,096 suspected cases currently in hospitals – out of which 237 cases have been laboratory-confirmed!

According to the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control [NCDC]’s spokesman, Lawal Bakare, a total of 38 local government areas across the six states of Sokoto, Katsina, Yobe, Zamfara, Kebbi and Niger have reached the epidemic threshold within the last couple of weeks.

The entire country is seems engulfed in fear; even as the Federal Ministry of Health appears considerably overwhelmed in general capacity.

Citizens have blamed the nation’s health authorities for not evolving proactive measures for the eventuality – especially with early precautionary warnings from the Nigerian Meteorological Agency.

Even the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire’s statement earlier in the month seems to confirm the reactive theory of the Nigerian public, ‘’this country before suffers meningitis around this time of year when dry season is turning to rainy season; especially in the area called the meningitis belt ranging all the way from Senegal down to Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The prevailing germ was the Meningitis A; but the current outbreak is the Type C variety. If you are immune to Type A doesn’t make you immune to Type C; and because Type C was very rare, the availability of vaccines for it has been very meagre relatively.’’

From the foregoing therefore, government and its concerned agencies were clearly not ignorant of the imminent outbreak and indeed, its latest manifest types.

But the national approach had been that of expectation; rather than anticipation – wherein studied precautions are deployed in readiness of its arrival. Here, one cannot help recalling Prof. Chinedu Nwajiuba’s description of our prevailing national culture.

The current Vice Chancellor of [the] Federal University, Ndufu-Alike Ikwo, [Ebonyi State] at a recent town-hall meeting with parents, staff and students of his Engineering Faculty said, ‘’Nigerians operate the culture of functioning the least at the workplace; but expecting to reap the biggest reward thereto!’’

The implication of this is that there is an abhorrent culture of what is called the workplace idleness in the nation’s labour consciousness. For every country that has ever succeeded, its people had been habitual researchers of their country’s persistent challenges – with a view to conquering such with localcontent capabilities – even if outsourced.

In the contemporary development question, every country has a set of unique challenges militating against its manifestation among the comity of nations. And each of those nations did ultimately overcome its malaise through concerted efforts of its specialized workforce.

This is why the patriotic declaration of the NCDC’s Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu to this effect deserves national applause. Hear him, “The NCDC will continue to engage proactively through all our channels of communication – online and offline.

We will also continue to work with our health reporters and journalists across the country to ensure easy reporting of facts. We need all hands on deck.’’ Indeed, ‘needing all hands on deck’ couldn’t be more applicable in any other case than in this very matter of urgent national importance.

But come on, our health authorities must learn to never put the cart before the horse. In the current quest to stem the meningitis carnage, sustainable solution must first be secured before embarking on any media spree. Media advocacy is a must, but there must first be some palpable scientific breakthrough from the bench for the newsroom to report!

It is the impression of this feature that the NCDC and its supervising Health Ministry are yet to explore one of the most crucial options in the present public health crisis – that of engaging the Nigerian Academy of Science.

Formed in 1977 as an independent body of Nigeria’s foremost scientists who are globally acknowledged in their sundry fields of science, engineering, and technology, it has the mandate to ensure the advancement of science, technology and innovation [STI] with the primary of aim of ensuring improved quality of life for the Nigerian society through the promotion and application of science and technology.

With its main mission of strengthening the nation’s ability to deliver the fruits of science and technology for its people, why should such a foremost scientific body not be consulted and tasked with helping to provide a permanent solution to the perennial meningitis and other epidemics? It has happened in other climes, it could as well in Nigeria.

For instance, when John F. Kennedy was President of the United State of America and all of a sudden it looked like the Soviet Union had overtaken them in the space research race by sending Yuri Gagarin into the orbit round the Earth, President Kennedy gathered the leading American scientists [under the auspices of the US National Science Academies] and demanded they figure out how America would put men not just into the orbit round the Earth, but land them on the Moon – at any cost, that is!

This is the kind of things that nations do: they identify major problems that are of national importance to them and task their scientists to produce the solutions.

The Nigerian Government should very well rally up the distinguished Fellows of [the] Nigerian Academy of Science and task them with coming up with the requisite vaccines and know-how that would permanently stamp out meningitis and other public health issues in the country.

The Nigerian Academy of Science and its distinguished Fellows, are famous the world over for always proving their professional mettles during crises in and outside the country.

A case in point is the 2014 Ebola disease outbreak in which the world praised the nation’s health authorities led by the then Federal Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, who worked with other experts, including Prof. Oyewale Tomori, a world acclaimed virologist that was then the President of the Nigerian Academy of Science to successfully deal with the menace with minimum casualties recorded nationwide.

In a recent interview to a popular national daily, Prof. Mosto Onuoha, current Present of The Nigerian Academy of Science, said inter alia, ‘’… the Academy has since its inception had a history of beneficial relationship with Government.

For instance, Nigeria’s first National Science and Technology Policy was formulated in 1986 in the realization of the fact that overall national development could only be sustained through effective application of scientific and technological skills for the production of goods and services.

So the policy was designed to create harmony in the quest for knowledge about the environment through R & D; and the use of that knowledge to ensure better quality of life for our people. The Academy was actively involved in the formulation of that policy.’’

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’Grasscutter farming has made me a multi-millionaire’

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“I decided to suspend my academic quest to start grass-cutter farming after completing my Master’s degree in Political Science because I saw some people in my department spending over seven years to acquire doctorate degrees and still struggled to find jobs,” Mr. Chinedu Eluwa told Sunday Telegraph.

 

Chinedu’s case is a typical example of what many Nigerian graduates go through in searching for jobs after spending years and resources in acquiring university education. He subsequently decided to suspend his quest for a doctorate degree to go into grass cutter farming in Chinedu hails from Awo- Omamma in Oru-East Local Government Area in Imo State.

 

After graduating with Political Science at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State in 2018 he went for his M.Sc. also in Political Science at the Madonna University, Okija in Anambra State which he finished in 2014. Once he completed his masters he initially toyed with the idea of securing an office job while he did his doctorate.

But after failing to set a decent job he opted to concentrate on his animal husbandry full time when he became fed up. He explained: “I decided I would be better off if I invest those years trying to secure a doctorate degree growing my grass-cutter farming business, and I haven’t regretted that decision. Yes, I will someday go back for my doctorate degree but not now. I need to spread this gospel of self-reliance so that more youths can take a cue from me. “I want them to see and use me as an example that an individual can start from where he is, with what he has, to where he/she wants to be.

 

To start a grasscutter farm, you need one colony that comprises one male and four females for N79,000 to breed, cages, drinking and feeding trough, supplementary feed and a farm house, these are the basic needs. “A four decker cage can cost between N50, 000 to N150, 000 depending on the location and welder.

 

Drinking and feeding trough sell for N1, 000 apiece. Pelletized supplementary feed goes for N250 per kilogramme and for the farm house, an empty room in your house can be used to start off.” The interest to venture into grasscutter farming developed when he visited Ibadan to attend a one-day seminar on the in 2011 after failing to laud a decent job.

 

“When I first saw them at Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria, Ibadan (FRIN), I realised that not many people were into the business and as such, I could be amongst the leaders in the industry if I started on time.

 

“Today, I thank God that I have made a big mark in the industry. Today, not only am I the first National President of the Grasscutter Farmers Association in Nigeria (GRAFAN), I am also the Chairman, Board of Trustees,” he enthused.

 

When he first started the business on March 20, 2012, it was like a hobby, he said: “Sincerely speaking, I didn’t take the time to document my earnings until last year because all along it was more like a hobby to me. From January to November 16, 2016, which coincided with my birthday, I generated over N12, 510, 000 selling breeding stocks, my e-book and my coaching programmes.

 

“When I came into the business, I didn’t calculate what the industry was worth. What I calculated was the number of people that will go through me as the gateman into the mine to mine the gold I discovered.

 

 

But today, the grasscutter farming industry is worth over N1billion bearing in mind that there are only four countries actively involved in the domestication of grasscutters – Nigeria, Ghana, Benin Republic and Togo.” Speaking on his challenges,

 

Eluwa said: “We know that the cost of purchasing breeding stock is quite high which is why we are currently working with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to access the Anchor Borrower Programme so that our members can get breeding stocks at reduced prices. “The uniqueness of this rodent stems from the fact that it has no religious or cultural discrimination against it.

 

Both Christians and Muslims consume grasscutters which is a delicacy any day anytime. Grasscutters are doctors’ recommended white meat. Virtually all our health conscious senior citizens have switched to white meat. Imagine the joy of having your own steady supply of white meat at your backyard. “Profits from breeding and selling grasscutters are fascinating. Imagine selling five rodents for N79, 000 when they are less than 2kg. They make good companions.

 

The value chain of grasscutter provides employment to all participants.” The Director of Research Planning and Protocol of GRAFAN, Mr. Peter Akparanta, enumerated what a young breeder may likely encounter and suggested ways that the government can support Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (SMEs).

 

He said: “SMEs in Nigeria do not have easy access to funds to scale their businesses causing them to stagnate and die or remain perpetually small. Also, it lacks adequate trainings to grow their businesses. Most of them can’t afford these trainings and they are also challenged with adequate and proper staffing.

 

“The government is trying, but they can do more. Knowing full well that small businesses form the bulk of enterprises in our society, they should bear the responsibility of ensuring that small businesses succeed so that they can keep the money and jobs flowing.”

 

Akparanta, who is also the editor of the Nigerian Yellow Pages, added: “Government needs to create and run more free business trainings and encourage the SME’s to go through these trainings. They should make certificates from these seminars collaterals for accessing customised individual SME loans. Government needs to seriously encourage small businesses to access funds to scale their businesses.”

 

According to him, the market is huge in the sense that people want grasscutters, “But the market is not coordinated and that is what we have come to achieve, saying that people need to know where to go to, when they need grasscutter meat.”

 

Akparanta, who has been in the business for a very long time, also warned of its health hazards for those that patronise road side grasscutter sellers. “There is the problem of buying from the roadside; it is not hygienic, it is not properly processed, it could be deadlier in the body than you think, but because people need it, they still go for it anyway.

 

“So we are doing something that can be scientifically accepted, hygienically prepared, trying to produce what people can be sure of. We want to provide more viable and important alternative, how it is properly processed and then create awareness. The market is there but the market does not know where to go for it.

 

So, we want the market to know where we are. “Grass-cutter is a popular delicacy in Nigeria, apart from its popularity as a delicacy in Nigeria amongst all the rodents that are domesticated, grass cutter stands as the most profitable.

 

Now imagine where you sell a male and four female grasscutters for N79, 000 per colony after three months for female and four months for male. I don’t think there is any rodent that is sold at that price. “Apart from it being a popular delicacy, which we locally know as bush meat, it is the most profitable rodent that is being domesticated in Nigeria and West Africa.”

 

Mr. Peter Adegoke, who is GRAFAN’s National Treasurer, spoke on the sheer size of the value chain: “We want to grow, process and export, there is value gain to it. The skin is also something that is highly in demand in the market, the skin and bones are raw materials for other pharmaceutical products. It can be processed into all these chains of products like shoes, bags and other leather items.”

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Fuel: Essential but still scarce in many states

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  • Motorists lament spending more money, time at filling stations

The fuel situation in Nigeria has not improved significantly following the latest round of scarcity. Where petrol is available, motorists spend more money and time at filling stations to get the product. In this story, our correspondents looked at the situation across the country and why this is not likely to change soon.

 

RIVERS

For motorists and communities in Rivers State, especially in Port Harcourt, the unending fuel scarcity is one situation they want the Federal Government to resolve. In most parts of Port Harcourt, the few filling stations that have fuel sell above N200 per litre, while the ones outside Port Harcourt, specifically the areas along Owerri Road sell at N190. To Port Harcourt residents, the most worrying part is that NNPC mega stations that used to serve as the last reprieve during scarcity are no longer reliable. Yet, motorists line up their vehicles in the hope that they will sell later. Due to the prolonged scarcity, transport fare that shot up at least 50 percent has refused to drop, causing a slight increase in the prices of goods.

DELTA

In Delta State shortage of petrol and arbitrary pump price increase of the product have persisted. Although, motorists are no longer forced into long queues at filling stations, most of the major marketers, including Oando, Total and some NNPC outlets, within Asaba metropolis, have been under lock and key since the beginning of the year. Apart from the Northwest Petrol Station and the NNPC Mega Station along the ever-busy Asaba – Onitsha Expressway that are selling at the official price of N145, all others, have not remained at between N160 and N180. At the popular Okpanam road in Asaba, the two outlets of the NNPC were locked, except for the Rainoil Filling Stations that reverted to official price three days ago. The situation had made the cost of living within Asaba and its environs higher as transport fares have gone up thereby affecting the prices of commodities in market.

KADUNA

Since the menace of the scarcity of petroleum products resurfaced about three months ago, the situation in Kaduna State had remained static and even deteriorating. In Kaduna metropolis, the major marketers still sell at the controlled price of N145 per litre, that is anytime the product is available and they decided not to sell to the black marketers at night. However on the outskirts of the town, the price goes between N180 and N200 per litre. While the product is always available on the outskirts, the stations only sell late at night and in the early hours of the morning allegedly agreed between them and the Department of Petroleum Resources, (DPR) who will not, come around to monitor at such hours. However the black marketers who are always in stock and dots all corners of the metropolis sell their products for N300 per litre.

The people have no option but to patronise the black marketers who our correspondent gathered are given preferential treatment at some filing stations even before selling to other motorists. This is because even when the product is available, motorists spend not less than five to six hours on the queue depending on the station. The situation has led to increase in transportation fares with its attendant hike in food prices.

Tansport fare that hitherto cost between N70 and 80 is now between 150 and 170 depending on the driver and your bargaining power. Narrating his experience in one of the filling stations Mallam Alabelewe Abdul said: “After wasting my five productive hours, they claimed that the fuel had finished. Meanwhile, they deliberately used only one pump out of the six just to make people suffer on the queue and appear as if they have sold the fuel for a long period. “As if that was not enough, they were selling for people who were not on the queue, people were just jumping the queue from all over and they were collecting bribe of N500 to sell to those not on the queue.

KANO

Fuel Scarcity continues to bite harder in Kano, with hundreds of motorists sleeping over at various filling stations, while a gallon is now sells for over N200. Most of the filling stations are permanently locked up while at their gates black marketers are seen operating with ease and making a kill. Global Aron, Azman, Oando, Total and many other filling stations are notorious for not selling fuel in Kano while black marketers take over their gates and operating without any hindrance.

The State Chairman of Independent Marketers Bashir Danmallam denied knowledge of any of its member involvement in fuel racketeering, saying the problems they are facing from the NNPC who refuses to supply the products to them. However, most motorists believe that there is a connivance between the marketers and the enforcing agency, DPR, who seems to be lax in their operations while within the city many stations stay locked for days with fuel while others sell at over 250 naira. Sani Dauda a motorist who told our correspondent that his car stayed overnight at AA Rano filling station for days to get the fuel, frowned at the difficult situation they found themselves today in Nigeria. Another Motorist, Ibrahim Garba, said he is faced with the challenge of staying overnight at a filling station to buy at over 200 or he buy from the black market with the attendant fear of the fuel being adulterated.

ONDO

Scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as petrol, persisted in Akure, Ondo State capital, with most of the filling stations in the town selling above the official pump price. The fuel scarcity which lasted through the Christmas and New Year celebrations has not subsided as most of the major marketers in the state did not open for business, while the independent marketers that opened sell above the pump price. A litre of PMS is being sold between N180 and N200 per litre while some major marketers who have fuel were being forced to sell fuel at normal price by the task force put in place by the state government Most dealers did not comply with the directives of the state task force not to sell above the pump price despite the threat to shut down fuel stations that refused to sell the product.

It was discovered that most of the fuel dealers had stock but sell at night to maximise profit and avoid the wrath of the task force put in place by the state government to sell the product A commercial driver, Bolaji Ajiboye, said most of the dealers refused to sell the product while some increase the pump price “without the fear of God.”

He said: “We have been buying the product between N170 and N200 per litre since December. We noticed that some dealers are behind the scarcity and are enjoying it. “Most of them have the product and are selling it in the middle of the night at rate higher than the normal price. “Commuters have been lamenting because of the increase in the fare and we cannot be charging less because we are buying the product at high prices. “We want to appeal to the state government to compel all the fuel stations to sell the product at the official pump price and stop hoarding the product. We have been suffering in silence.”

ABIA

In Aba the commercial hub of the South Eastern Nigeria fuel price is unstable as some fuel stations within the metropolitan area sold at N190 per litre while some others within the suburbs sell at N187 per litre. The queues witnessed during the festive period is no longer there. Petroleum products are not scare as every petrol station visited were selling to customers on time. Meanwhile, prices of goods and transportation have remained permanently high as they were during the festive period.

KOGI

In Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, there is a decline of the price of fuel. In most of the petrol stations, fuel now sell at N200 per litre as against the earlier prices of between N250 and N300 per pump price. However, government owned stations, NNPC mega stations sell at N145 government regulated price, but it is very difficult to access due the unending queues at the stations. Motorists, and travellers, prefer to buy the product at the conventional filling station, despite high hike.

The hike, according to Saturday Telegraph has not affected the prices of commodities so much as price of rice per measurement is sold at between N600 and N650. Commercial transportation particularly by the motorcycles known as Okada now charge N80 to N100 per drop while the tricyclists known as Keke NAPEP charge N100 as flat rate irrespective of destination.

Some of the filling station managers told Saturday Telegraph that the reason for the hike was because of the unavailability of the product at the deport, as they have to get the product through black market to keep their business afloat. Meanwhile, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), has said it will continue to track down filling stations who are selling fuel above the regulated pump price. The Kogi State controller of the department, Engineer, Amos Jekodeola, told Saturday Telegraph that the department has sealed and penalised some defaulting petrol stations for the offences of hike in price and hoarding.

KATSINA

Barely three weeks to Christmas celebration motorists in Katsina State started experiencing fuel security in and around the state, a situation that persisted up to today. The situation is worst especially in the state capital and major towns. For instance in the state capital when the situation of fuel scarcity persisted, the state government constituted a task force to help ease the situation for the motorists, but it has not improved as people spend between eight and 12 hours on queue before getting the commodity when available at the few filling stations that sell at the government control price of N145. But some stations will lock up on the pretext of exhausting the supply only to sell late at night to black marketers. The price range of the product in Katsina varies from N220, N215, N205 to N200 per litre. The situation has affected prices of goods like foodstuff and services, such as hike in prices charged by Okada riders, inter and intra state transport fares among others.

EBONYI

The product is available at both filing stations and black markets. When Saturday Telegraph visited many filing stations in Abakaliki, the state capital, no long queues were observed. However, the product is still sold at high price. A litre of fuel is currently sold between N185 and N200 in filing stations while it is sold between N250 and N280 in black markets. At the NNPC mega station, it is sold at N145 but there is always a long queue.

PLATEAU

The current fuel scarcity in Plateau State where people spend long hours at filling stations has triggered hike in the prices of food items in Jos the state capital as traders attributed the rise to the high cost of transportation. Saturday Telegraph visit to the popular Terminus and Farin Gada markets indicates that the price increase started as the fuel scarcity became more serious a few days ago. At Farin Gada market, a basket of tomatoes which previously sold for N1500 few days five days ago now goes for N2,000 while a bag of red pepper goes for N10,000, compared to its previous price of N5,500 per basket.

Similarly, a bag of Irish Potatoes increased from N10, 000 to N16, 000 while a bag of onions, which was previously sold between N10,000 and N15,000 now goes for between N20,000 and N25,000, depending on the size. Some of the food items supplied from the villages have equally gone up in price as result of the fuel scarcity which also affected the cost of transporting the produce from the villages to the markets. Items such carrots, cabbage and vegetables amongst other are affected. Abdullahi Ahmed, a tomatoes and onions seller in Jos, said prices increased because suppliers had to factor in the cost and stress of getting fuel from filling stations. Saturday Telegraph reports that food items such as maize, beans, Irish potatoes, rice pepper, onion, tomatoes and others have also become more expensive in Jos.

However most filling stations around Jos, the Plateau State capital, doesn’t have the product, only a few sell at high prices of between N200 and N250 per litre while the only NNPC Mega station along Yakubu Gowon Way which sells at the government approved price has long queues of cars from National Library Junction to Dogon Karfe.

ONDO

Scarcity of fuel in Osun State has become a forgone issue but the price of the essential commodity still remains high as it is being sold for N200 per litre in the state as against the N145 official pump price. There is no filling station in the state where the commodity is being sold for N145 except all Bovas filling stations where people get it for N143. Virtually all filling stations owned by major and independent marketers in the state are selling beyond the official pump price.

Occasionally, Mobil filling station at Okefia sell at N145 per litre while others sell for N200 and above. As a result of this development, there is no queue of vehicles in the filling stations as motorists and motorcyclists move into the filling stations with ease to get their fuel. However, long queues are usually witnessed at Bovas and NNPC filling stations in the state as a result of motorists scrambling to get the essential commodity. One of the motorists who identified himself as Adeyemi Adebisi complained bitterly about the unbearable hike in price of fuel but said he said: “We have to thank God for still having it even if hoarded.”

NIGER

In Niger state, there are still queues at the NNPC Mega filling station with a few major marketers selling the products in Minna. Saturday Telegraph gathered that the pump price is normal as people buy fuel at the rate of N143 at the NNPC Mega filling station and N145 in almost other filling stations. When our correspondent went round the major petrol stations in Minna metropolis, commuters and residents said there seems to be no end in sight with the situation.

A commuter, Mustapha Bina, told our correspondent that there is even no money let alone to spend on buying fuel. According to him: “I bought fuel once at night from black marketers for N195 per litre because I cannot join the long queues at NNPC, Total or Oando filling stations. Those who wait spend at least three to four hours.”

When our Correspondent spoke to the state Chairman, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association (IPMAN), Alhaji Adamu Erena, he said there is no need to panic and that their members sell products that are available. Findings at the NNPC Mega filing station show that fuel is sold at N143 with decorum as security men are well positioned to ensure orderliness. The manager, Alhaji Salla Ibrahim, said: “We sell petrol at N143. I can only urge them to join the queue and be orderly because we start early and close late every day.”

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IGANDO BABY FACTORY: SARS arrested us same day we moved into building –Neighbours

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•I don’t know how suspects got into the flat –House agent

 

“My family, a soldier friend and I were arrested same day we moved into our newly acquired apartment. We didn’t know there was anything fishy about the apartment until we were arrested by Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) on Sunday and taken to Ikeja,” said Lucky Effiong, a neighbour to Mr. Adeola and Mrs. Binta Adebayo, the couple arrested for allegedly harbouring pregnant girls and selling their babies without their consent.

For renting an apartment in same building dubbed a ‘baby factory’ by the police in Igando area of Lagos State, Effiong and his family members recounted their ordeals in the hand of the SARS, who arrested and detained them same day they moved into the building, to Sunday Telegraph a few days ago. Unfortunately, the day Lucky and his family moved into their cherished apartment at Hand of Fire City, along Ikotun-Igando Road, coincided with the same day the ‘baby factory’ was raided by SARS, which led to arrest of his family and soldier friend, who eventually ensured their release after several hours. Lucky, who wanted to resist the arrest initially on the grounds that he had done nothing wrong, was advised against the action by his soldier-friend, who asked him to relax until they get to the police station.

Asked his connection with the apartment and if he knew the building was a suspected human trafficking camp, he said his family had just moved into the building and as such was yet to know who his neighbours were and what they do. “I don’t know anybody here; I just packed in last week (the day they were arrested). I got to know about the case due to our arrest. In fact, the Sunday that SARS raided here was the same day we moved in. We have just stayed here for barely one week and I do not know anybody around apart from the security of the area.

“We didn’t know anything about the case but SARS arrested us with those pregnant ladies. My brother and I, including a soldier friend were arrested for a matter we knew nothing about. Before we could finish proving our innocence, it was late and we got home by 2am on Monday.

It wasn’t an experience one can let go easily. “You can imagine the excitement; the joy of moving into new apartment as the very first occupant was dashed by that singular act of being arrested!” he told Sunday Telegraph. However, when we sort to know why an apartment was given to a woman with such a mind-set, the house agent, Mr. I. Nobel of the ID Nobel Properties Limited said he wasn’t aware that the tenant had turned the apartment into a ‘baby factory,’ saying that he did not know how they got into the apartment in the first instance. He disassociated himself completely from the suspects, who occupy a flat in the building he manages, saying: “I don’t know them and I didn’t know how they got there. I didn’t rent house to them. I was called upon to let out the remaining two ground flats.

They had rented the flat before I got the job as the agent. “I’m looking for tenants with good character and genuine work. I don’t discriminate whether Igbo, Hausa or Yoruba. I think the upstairs was rented for N450, 000 but I’m letting the down flats for N400, 000.”

Sequel to discrepancies in the account of suspects who claimed that they had nothing to do with the baby factory, Sunday Telegraph embarked on tour of the estate with a view of investigating their assertions against the community and police claims. Eventually, our correspondent had a breakthrough as one of the Chief Security Officers (CSOs) within the community, who pleaded anonymous, confirmed that Mrs. Adebayo actually had suspicious pregnant women in her apartment which led to their arrest.

The CSO also gave our correspondent a link to the woman’s Beer Parlour at Osumba by Ajo Bus-stop along Ikotun-Igando Road, four bus-stops away from the Hand of Fire City Estate, where the suspect rented a flat for the girls in a newly built house. According to this CSO, the woman rented the apartment in December 2017, while the building was opened officially on December 23, 2017 for letting with a low key ceremony. Sunday Telegraph learnt that the apartment was let out for between N450, 000 and N500, 000. Asked whether the young man he usually saw with the ladies was paid to pregnant the girls, the CSO said “no”, adding that “the girls got pregnant from different persons either by mistake or something else.

We know everything about the state because this gate is locked by 10pm and opens in the morning by 6am. So I can tell you for sure.” Also Sunday Telegraph observed that the apartment in question was in dispute as there were public notice on the wall of the building reading, “Possession taken today 5/01/2018 by order of…Suit No FHC/L/ CS/580/201/.”

Probing further to determine whether the suspects were illegal occupants of the apartment, the CSO said: “Court just gave back the ownership of property (about four houses including those under construction) to the rightful owners, saying that some people were reselling the property, which prompted a legal action from the original family owners. “So, it wasn’t as if court sealed the property and they still live in it. You can see the agent’s number and contacts there,” pointing at the sign post.

More so, sequel to the information supplied by the CSO, our correspondent visited the suspect’s Beer Palour where she was arrested by SARS on Sunday evening. There, one Mr. Tayo Ogunmbiyi confirmed the presence of pregnant ladies always round the female suspect. However, reacting to some of the issues raised, the Lagos State Command, Police Public Relation Officer (PPRO), SP Chike Oti said the woman has been charged to Ikeja Magistrate Court, while the girls taken to the Shelter, a home under the care of Lagos State.

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