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Lilya 4 Ever
About this movie: Lilja 4-Ever Directed by Lukas Moodyson 104 minutes Lilja 4-Ever tells the story of teenage girl, who was abandoned by her mother and left alone to fend for herself in a former Soviet republic. She falls in love with a young man who promises that she can join him and find legal work in Sweden. He deceives her and she is trafficked to Sweden and forced into prostitution. The movie illustrates several root causes of trafficking such as socio-economic crisis, child neglect and violence against women. Following her story from her country of origin to Sweden, the film also shows how difficult it is for a trafficked person to seek assistance and protection, even if they manage to escape their traffickers.
>> Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Trail of tears
Global profits associated with sexual slavery are on the order of $31.7 billion, according to the International Labor Organization. Here in Texas, one out of every five trafficking victims in the U.S. is believed to travel Interstate 10 each year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, and Houston and El Paso are on the list of most intense trafficking jurisdictions in the country.To reduce the number of women, children, and men who wind up as modern-day slaves, State Senator Leticia Van de Putte drafted legislation to establish a statewide task force on sex trafficking that would also require law enforcement to explore alternative models for handling minors engaged in prostitution, raise the age of minor status for prostitution charges from 17 to 18, and make ignorance of a victims age inadmissible as a defense. The legislation was well received and approved unanimously in House and Senate committees before being rolled into related legislation intended to expand victim-assistance services in the state. That larger bill is now on its way to Governor Perry.Meanwhile, the last of five Bexar County residents convicted a year ago in BexarCos only human-trafficking lawsuit to date is set to be sentenced on June 19 under a plea agreement. Brent Stephens, the owner of several home-health service organizations in recent years including Senior Sitters, Total Therapy Services, and Meta-Care would serve five years in prison for his part in luring three women to the United States from Nuevo Laredo to work as prostitutes for an escort service. Two of the women were minors.Stephens allegedly backed out of the plan after inspecting the women at his condo. His partner, registered sex offender Timothy Gereb, who threatened the women with a gun if they failed to perform, according to court testimony, was sentenced to 10 yearsin prison in March 2008.While sexual slavery is a critical and horrifying issue, its important to remember that for every person enslaved in sex work, there are three people being forced to labor in other capacities, says Maria Trujillo, executive director of Houston Rescue and Restore. Enslaved people can be found working in restaurants, selling magazines door-to-door, working in nail salons, or as domestic help.
By Adam Walters
May 18, 2009 12:00am
DEEP desire is not being matched by the depth of pockets in Sydney brothels as the sex industry succumbs to the global financial crisis.
Helen, the long-time manageress of Liaisons, at Edgecliff, said business had slumped between 30 and 50 per cent since January.
"There's been a massive slowdown as clients cut spending," Helen said.
"Hour-long sessions are becoming half an hour, weekly visits are now monthly and more and more credit cards are being declined."
Helen said the recession was also introducing a new style of prostitute "nothing like the stereotype of the working girl".
"These girls are professionals, university-educated and suddenly unemployed, with big bills to pay.
"They're turning up here on a daily basis looking for work. We've had legal secretaries and beautifully dressed office workers wanting to start as soon as possible.
"Just last week, we had a fashion designer and a qualified architect offering their services."
Lee Cameron, owner of La Petite Aroma, at Chatswood, said many of these "high-class" girls vanished as suddenly as they arrived.
"It's a challenging job; having sex with strangers is certainly not for everybody. Some of the new ones will work for a couple of days and I'll never see them again."
Elena Jeffreys, from the Scarlet Alliance, said the sex industry was like any other in hard times.
Adult Business Association spokesman Chris Seage said he was aware of a 21-room massage parlour in the heart of the CBD operating as Sydney's biggest illegal brothel.
He said the so-called "health spa" continued to trade between 11am and 3am despite the association's repeated protests to the Sydney City Council.
"It's ridiculous - this is happening right under Clover Moore's nose. It's just around the corner from the Town Hall and nobody wants to know about it."
Mr Seage said the massage parlour was next door to a legal brothel, in contravention of city council by-laws governing restricted premises.
The business was recently the subject of a formal complaint to the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
>> Wednesday, March 18, 2009
>> Thursday, March 12, 2009
>> Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Wilberforce Act Highlights The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 TheHighlights 1/1/2009 By Brenda Zurita After almost two years of crafting, revising, negotiating and draftingcompromise legislation, both the House and the Senate passed the WilliamWilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008(H.R. 7311) by unanimous consent on December 10, 2008. Following are someof the highlights of this extraordinary bill. International Provisions The U.S. State Department will base Country Tier ratings in theannual Trafficking in Person's (TIP) Report on whether countries havemade "serious and sustained efforts to reduce the demand forcommercial sex" and "serious and sustained efforts to reduce …participation in international sex tourism." The 2009 TIP Report will now cover all countries, not just those with"a significant number" of trafficking cases. In past years,unless the Trafficking in Persons Office could prove the existence of 100or more victims in previous years, a country would not be included in thereport. The time a country remains on the Tier 2 Watch List (used forcountries that are on the brink of falling into the worst category, Tier3) is now limited to two years. The President may make exceptions for upto two additional years if he finds the country is making positiveefforts. This is significant because the Tier 2 Watch List is being usedas a way to protect politically sensitive countries that deserve a poorranking from being placed on Tier 3. The Act gives the TIP Office responsibility for all policy, funding,and programming decisions related to its grantees, effectively placingcontrol of grant programs in the hands of the TIP Office for the firsttime since its inception. The Act enforces the role of the TIP Office in two ways. It nowrequires consultation and coordination by the TIP Office for allanti-trafficking programs conducted by the State Department and the U.S.Agency for International Development (USAID). In addition, all federalagencies must now submit all grants for review by the Senior PolicyOperating Group (SPOG), which the TIP Office Director chairs. Domestic Provisions Under the Act, prosecutors no longer have to prove that a defendantknew the victim was a minor; they just need to show that a defendant hada "reasonable opportunity to observe" the victim. In addition,the standard of proof is being lowered to "reckless disregard"for traffickers or defendants who come into contact with victims forcedto engage in commercial sex acts. This broadens the scope to allowcharges against ancillary participants such as landlords. The Act lowers proof requirements for those who harbor illegal aliensfor prostitution purposes. If the trafficker knows or recklesslydisregards the victim's illegal immigration status, the trafficker can beconvicted - even without proving force, fraud or coercion. The Act lowers the proof standard in sex trafficking cases involvingforce, fraud and coercion from "knowing" to "recklessdisregard," thereby removing the means of participants in thecommercial sex industry to escape conviction by ignoring indicia of abuseof trafficking victims. The U.S. Code definition of "serious harm" no longerequates commercial sex acts with "labor or services." Theprevious definition made the relationship between victim and pimp ortrafficker a normative one. The Act creates several new crimes, punishments, and liabilities suchas: obstruction for persons interfering with any traffickinginvestigation, criminal liability for persons conspiring to engage inunlawful trafficking, and criminal liability for anyone financiallybenefitting or receiving anything of value from a federal traffickingcrime. It also expands federal jurisdiction to U.S. citizens andpermanent residents who commit, attempt to commit, or conspire to commitfederal slavery, forced labor, or sex trafficking crimes abroad. The Act and report language acknowledges the plight of the victims inseveral ways: the report language clarifies that preying on a victim'sdrug use or addictions will, in and of itself, form the basis forconvicting traffickers under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act(TVPA); the Act states that proof of force, fraud, and coercion will nolonger be gauged by the "reasonable person" standard butinstead be gauged using the same backgrounds and circumstances as thevictim. The Act also strengthens the financial provisions of the TVPA toenable victims to receive restitution through traffickers' forfeitedassets and enhances the ability of victims to obtain civil damages fromanyone benefitting from engaging in federal peonage,1 slaveryor trafficking in persons crimes. The Act requires the Department of Justice (DOJ) to create a newmodel law that "furthers a comprehensive approach to investigationand prosecution" based in part on D.C. Criminal Code §22-2701 etseq. which makes all acts of pimping and pandering per secrimes, even without proof of force, fraud or coercion or a victim'sminor age. The Act changes the way "prostitution and commercializedvice" arrests are categorized in the Uniform Crime Reports. Thearrests will no longer be lumped together. They must now be broken downto show how many prostitutes, johns and pimps/traffickers were arrested.In addition, a new category of "Human Trafficking" will appearin the serious crimes category. The Department of Justice must report to Congress within 90 days whenthe study of the illegal commercial sex industry will be complete. The Act also requires several new reports and studies from theDepartment of Justice: a report on its activities to enforce Mann Actcrimes from 2001 to 2009; a report on the number of prosecutions,convictions, and multiple defendant cases against minors when the victimsare above the age of 18 when their traffickers are arrested ("lookback crimes"); a report on the use of restitution and forfeitureprovisions in human trafficking cases; a report on its activities toenforce RICO offenses in sex and forced labor trafficking cases; a reporton its use of D.C.'s pimping and pandering laws (federal prosecutors areresponsible for enforcing these per se statutes in the District ofColumbia); subject to fund availability, the Act mandates that DOJconduct an comprehensive study of Internet-based crime in the sexindustry and a comprehensive study of the application of state humantrafficking statutes and the impact of the current Model Law onenforcement of existing State pandering statutes. The Department of Health and Human Services and the DOJ must submit areport to Congress on the extent of any "service gap" betweendomestic and foreign national survivors of trafficking. The Act requires the creation of an integrated database by the HumanSmuggling and Trafficking Center to collect data from all federalagencies to make better estimates of human trafficking statistics. The Act requires the Department of Labor to provide a list of goodsit has reason to believe have been made with forced labor or child labor. The Act authorizes funding for a new program to provide services toU.S. citizen survivors of human trafficking.
>> Sunday, January 4, 2009
Home of Illegal Baby Trade, Abortions
Written by Joseph Onyekwe
In Ezuma Hospital, Aba, Abia State, babies are freely sold to parents
who cannot have children of their own, with scant regards for government
rules and regulations
September 9, 2008, at the Abayi junction in the heart of Aba, a
commercial city in Abia State, a group of vehicles, including commercial
motorcycles, carrying passengers were waiting for their turns at one side
of the intersection to move on. Suddenly, a young female passenger on one
of the commercial motorcycles popularly known as okada in the queue
slumped and fell on the road.
A group of sympathisers, including the policemen controlling traffic at
the junction rushed to her aid. They tried to revive her but she died on
the spot. What happened next was shocking. The lady, Chinenye Opara, as
the hospital card she had in her handbag identified her, had just come
out of Ezuma Private Hospital on 101 Okigwe Road, Aba where she had an
illegal abortion. The police immediately went to the hospital demanding
to see the doctor who carried out the abortion. But the doctor, simply
known as Okon had fled. The police subsequently commenced investigation
on the matter. The Umuojima police station, Osisioma Local Government
area made some arrests at the hospital and later transferred the matter
to the state criminal investigation, unit CID, Umuahia, the Abia State
James Ezuma James, the medical director and chief executive of the
hospital who was in Abuja when the incident happened came back. He was
asked to produce the fled doctor but he could not do so. He was then
arrested and taken to the state CID Umuahia and detained with some of his
staff. Three hours later, Ezuma and his workers were released from
Apart from performing illegal abortion, Ezuma Hospital is widely known in
Aba as a baby factory. It is a place where the selling of babies and
abortion take place daily. The hospital is noted for admitting under-aged
pregnant girls whose babies are later sold when they are born.
Newswatch learnt that the hospital has about 200 pregnant young
girls on admission. The hospital enjoys good patronage from those who
need babies. Pregnant girls whose ages are between 12 and 21 are brought
to the hospital and those who introduce them to the hospital are
allegedly rewarded with N5,000 each. For instance, on September 5,
2008, N5,000 was paid to an unidentified lady who introduced a pregnant
girl to the hospital. The record of this payment is contained in the
expenses booklet of the hospital for that month.
Between 12 and 16 pregnant girls are cramped in one room in the hospital.
The rooms are small and dirty. Almost all the facilities in the rooms are
overstretched. The toilet facility, which was meant to be a water
cistern, is dilapidated. The pregnant girls live and cook in the same
rooms where they sleep. The kerosene stoves and pots in the rooms are as
many as the occupants. Those who cannot find space on a bed put their
mattresses on the floor, while those who cannot find space in the rooms
use the corridors. The management of the hospital looks after the
pregnant ladies also called ‘social mothers’ until their children are
They are paid between N500 and N600 every week for their upkeep. When
they give birth, they are paid off with about N50, 000 each, depending on
the length of time spent in the hospital. The newborn baby would then be
sold out to those who need them. Each male child is sold at N400, 000,
while a female child is sold for N350, 000.
According to an inside source, an average of about five people die in the
hospital weekly. The death, the source explained, is attributed to poor
facilities and lack of qualified personnel in the hospital. “The health
care facilities in the hospital are very poor. There are no qualified
nurses and doctors. Laboratory technicians are the ones doubling as
doctors. The equipment are not sterilised,” he said.
The source told Newswatch that about nine out of 100 ‘social
mothers’ do not survive labour and delivery because there are no
antenatal facilities for them. Instead, the hospital is only interested
in scanning to ascertain the sex of the baby in the womb.
Newswatch investigations showed that scanning is allegedly done at
Body Check Ultrasound Clinic located at 29, Okigwe road, Aba. A man
simply known as David who used to be a security man in the hospital
disposes of babies which die during delivery.
According to the hospital’s evening shift expenses book dated June 7,
2008, David is paid N500 for each of such disposal. Newswatch
learnt that dead bodies from the hospital were initially deposited at the
General Hospital Mortuary in agreement with the mortuary attendants who
assign fictitious names to the corpses. But concerned parents and
relations who visit the mortuary in search of their loved ones usually
trace the records of the dead to Ezuma Hospital. When the medical
director was no longer comfortable with that arrangement, he
allegedly started to pay off mortuary attendants so they would not keep
any record at all. Those involved in the arrangement are paid
These young pregnant teenagers are asked to make a declaration and swear
to an affidavit stating that the men who made them pregnant are at large
and that they cannot cater for the babies and so have willingly
authorised Ezuma Hospital to give out the baby for sale. Among the
teenage girls who swore to an oath are Chinasa Achunwa, 13; Uruakpa
Chidinma, 17; Nnabueze Okwukwe; 16, and Esther Emezuruike, 14.
Ezuma, however, told Newswatch that the girls go to the court on
their own to swear to the oath. But investigations at the Aba High Court
showed that Ezuma takes the documents to the court himself and gets them
stamped. An inside source said he pays N200 for each form stamped and
that the girls don’t actually swear to affidavit.
When Newswatch confronted Ezuma with the allegation that he was
involved in selling babies, he claimed that they were not being sold but
adopted by willing foster parents in accordance with the Eastern Nigeria
Child Adoption Law No 12 of 1965. He stated that the social welfare
department of the local government issues papers to interested persons
who take babies from his hospital. He has a prototype of the application
for fostering an abandoned baby in his hospital. Surprisingly, the
applications are usually not addressed to any particular local
government’s Social Welfare Unit.
Newswatch investigations at the Social Welfare Unit of Aba South
Local Government Area indicated that no applicant has passed through the
council in recent times for any child adoption at Ezuma Hospital. In
fact, a lady at the unit who spoke to Newswatch on condition of
anonymity was shocked that the hospital still existed. She alleged that
the hospital was notorious for illegal child trafficking. According to
her, any foster parent who wants to adopt a baby comes to them for a
temporary adoption paper, which would be made permanent at the end of one
year. She said it is only when such permanent papers are issued that the
foster parents can claim the baby as theirs.
The story was the same in Umuahia North Local government Area. One of the
social welfare officers who simply gave his name as Uduma said legal
adoption only attracts a fee of N25,600. According to him, when someone
intends to adopt a baby, the applicant would be required to present age
declaration certificate, evidence of medical fitness, two passport
photographs, a marriage certificate as well as the birth certificate of
the baby to be adopted. In his view, some people prefer to cut corners by
avoiding the due process. It is uncertain if those who patronise Ezuma
Hospital follow these procedures.
At Ezuma Hospital, a book of records is kept on the “adoption” of babies.
According to one of the books kept by the hospital, N2,255,000 million
was made from 17 transactions in June, July and August 2008. Some of the
entries showed that an unnamed adopter deposited N130, 000 into the
personal account of Ezuma on June 21. The same day, Ugo Orji, another
adopter, paid N350, 000 for a baby. On June 23, Chioma Chigozie paid
N150, 000 for a baby. On June 24, a couple entered as Sunny Ogbonna paid
N300, 000 for a baby. Nwogbe Ndu paid an outstanding balance of N5,000
for an adopted baby on June 25.
On June 26, four people paid for babies. They are Michael Uchechukwu,
N100, 000; Ebegoro Lazarus, N240, 000; Helen Umunnaegbe, N100, 000 and
Comfort Ani, N200, 000. On July 9, Ihejeto Theresa paid N95, 000
outstanding balance for an adopted child. Chioma Kalu did the same with
N50, 000 on July 11. But the money paid by Kalu was used to refund one
Priye Ajumogeobia whose contract for a baby was unfulfilled. Ejieko
Ibekwe paid N100, 000 on August 1. Umunnaegbe returned again on August 9
and paid additional N95, 000. On August 11, Aaron Patience and one Ifeoma
paid N40, 000 and N140, 000 respectively for babies.
On a regular basis, Ezuma smiles to the bank. His deposit slips with
Access Bank with account number: 0200020005707 detailed how huge deposits
are frequently made into his account. Another evidence of the illicit
deal is contained in the cash receipt booklets of the hospital. The
booklets also contain the addresses of the alleged foster parents and how
much they paid. In some of the receipts, the purpose of payment is
recorded as treatment. But what was treated was not indicated.
Cecilia Chukwu bought a baby from Ezuma hospital in 2007. When she was
contacted, she told Newswatch that she was not aware that Ezuma
was doing illegal baby business. She claimed that she followed the due
process in ‘adopting’ the baby. According to her, the woman in charge of
child adoption in Abia State ministry of women affairs endorsed it.
Chukwu said the adopted baby is still with her and is doing well.
Chinyere Obidiegwu said she gave an advance payment of N60,000 on May 5,
2007. Her friend who had earlier bought a baby there introduced her to
Ezuma Hospital. She told Newswatch that she has not collected the
The story is the same for another couple simply known as the Ikes. They
paid N400,000 deposit on May 22, 2008 as part payment for a male and
female children but are yet to have any.
Another female client of Ezuma Hospital told Newswatch that she
had to pad her stomach to fake pregnancy for more than one year before
getting a baby boy she negotiated and paid for in 2007. She confessed
that carrying the fake pregnancy for so long became so embarrassing that
she resorted to staying indoors, adding that she did that to overcome the
shame of childlessness. She claimed that she did not know that there are
procedures to follow in child adoption. “I heard from people that I can
get a baby from Ezuma Hospital, so I decided to go there. I did not know
that there are procedures to follow in child adoption,” she said.
Ezuma told Newswatch that the amount of money paid by those who
come to adopt babies was like a refund to him. He said it was to recoup
what he spent in taking care of the pregnant girls during their stay in
the hospital. According to him, he was keeping the girls to avoid a
situation where they would give birth and throw the babies into the
gutter or refuse dumps. But the process of the so-called adoption does
not involve the social welfare department, though he may have some
accomplices among the social welfare workers who introduce clients to
Ezuma hospital keeps shift report on the pregnant ladies. The report on
shift duties contains the description of the activities among the
pregnant ladies during the night or morning periods. Such reports
included whether there was a new admission, when a pregnant lady had her
last monthly period, LMP and the expected date of delivery, EDD. The
attendants are also to record in the book if there is any delivery,
whether such delivery was safe or otherwise, as well as to know if there
were agitations among the inmates.
An 18-year-old pregnant lady in the hospital who preferred anonymity told
Newswatch that her friend introduced the hospital to her. Her
parents had sent her away in anger when they discovered that she was
pregnant. The man who made her pregnant denied responsibility. She
complained about the state of facilities in the hospital. According to
her, staying in the hospital was a painful choice since she has no
alternative. She said the hospital pays her N500 every Monday as feeding
allowance for the week.
The young lady said she would have liked to keep her baby after delivery
but regretted that she has been told that the condition was that she has
to give out the baby for adoption. According to her, any attempt to
escape with the baby attracts severe punishment, including police
harassment. She told Newswatch how a young lady who had escaped to
have her baby outside Ezuma Hospital but returned with a false pregnancy
to attempt to collect her belongings was arrested and punished. As a
result of the incident, the inmates are no longer allowed to go outside
the hospital, especially those whose dates of delivery are
Newswatch learnt that the National Agency for the Prohibition of
Traffic in Human Persons and Other Related Matters, NAPTIP, Enugu zone
was disturbed when it first heard about the activities of the hospital.
On July 23, 2007, NAPTIP raided the hospital and arrested some of the
under-aged girls and staff. Consequently, Ezuma went to court to secure
an injunction restricting further arrest and prosecution. It was not
certain if the injunction was granted but the doctor in a substantial
suit filed at a federal high court sued the inspector-general of Police,
NAPTIP, the State Security Services and the Independent Corrupt Practices
and Other Offences Commission, ICPC for violation of right of privacy.
The case is still pending in the court.
A source told Newswatch that NAPTIP officials have allegedly
compromised. “NAPTIP officials came from Enugu to Aba and allegedly
entered into an agreement with the doctor to ensure that nothing comes
out of the case,” a source told Newswatch.
But Ijeoma Okoronkwo, zonal head, NAPTIP, Enugu told Newswatch
that it was untrue that the agency compromised. “We have not got into any
arrangement with him. The court has been dragging but we expect that we
would be through soonest so we can go on with the matter. The law will
definitely catch up with him, though he thinks he is above the law,” she
According to her, NAPTIP got the information that Ezuma Hospital was
admitting pregnant young girls in addition to sales of babies and decided
to lay surveillance around him. “We laid surveillance around him and
confirmed that he sells babies and issues birth certificate to his
customers in their names. We also saw a lot of young pregnant girls that
are kept there,” she said. Okoronkwo stated that NAPTIP was still
investigating Ezuma despite the fact that he went to court to try to
stall their investigations. She assured that NAPTIP would definitely
prosecute Ezuma. She said that Ezuma was claiming that his fundamental
human rights were violated for the fact that NAPTIP officials went into
his premises. “We are authorised by law to go in there and carry out our
investigative activities. We have the constitutional responsibility to do
that,” she said.
She further stated that though the issue of abortion was outside NAPTIP
mandate, some girls had during the raid confessed to her that they went
to Ezuma to procure abortion. “They work on the psyche of the teenagers.
When they get there to procure abortion, they try to convince them to
keep the babies because they make more money in the sale of babies,” she
Top police officers including members of the dreaded Bakassi Boys,
now renamed Abia State Vigilante Services are also said to be on the
payroll of the hospital. A source said that this alleged security
protection has continued to boost the ego of the doctor and his business.
There are records of money given to unidentified policemen in the
expenses booklet of the hospital. For instance, on February 12, 2008, a
policeman was given N2,000 for unstated services rendered. On February
21, less than ten days before the last payment, another N7,000 was paid
to the police. Okon, the doctor who allegedly performed the illegal
abortion that resulted in the death of Opara, was given N20,000 on
September 9, so as to settle a police. Incidentally, that was the
day that the girl died.
Newswatch experience with the police in Abia State makes the
complicity story more credible. The police area commander in Aba said he
was not aware of the activities of the hospital. But before then,
Newswatch had met the Investigating Police Officer, IPO, who
handled Ezuma’s case. He declined to speak except the area commander
authorised him to do so. Newswatch, therefore, insisted that the
IPO, be invited. When he came before the area commander, he denied
handling any such case.
The situation was the same in Umuahia. Ali Okechukwu, the state police
public relations officer, told Newswatch that he has not been
informed of any incident involving Ezuma Hospital. He asked to be given
time to enquire from the state CID and by press time , there was no
response from him. But Newswatch investigations at the state CID
showed that the medical director of Ezuma Hospital and some pregnant
teenagers were indeed arrested once and brought to Umuahia. A police
signal dated September 15, indicated that copies were sent to the
commissioner of police ‘B’ operations Umuahia, Area Commander State CID
and Area Commander Aba. According to a police source, the man who
initially handled the case in the state CID was recently murdered while
on official assignment in a town near Azumini, Ukwa Local government area
of Abia State.
The source expressed shock that the suspects who were still in their
custody at the close of work could not be seen the following morning.
Sources said about N2.2 million changed hands. But that could not be
Ezuma is alleged to have been in the business of selling babies and
helping young girls procure abortion for about 20 years. His mode of
operation is to encourage pregnant teenagers to stay in his hospital and
deliver their babies, which would be subsequently sold. All the same, he
does not force those who wish to have their pregnancies terminated to
keep to them. He gives them the freedom to make their choice. But either
way, he makes money.
When Newswatch confronted him with this allegation that he was
involved in illegal abortion, he denied it. He said he was not involved
in illegal abortion of pregnancies in his hospital. According to him, the
dead girl had her abortion with a quack doctor somewhere else and came to
his hospital to obtain a card, which implicated him. But available
documents indicated that the hospital does abortion daily. His card book
contains daily records of the number of cards sold to those who come for
abortion and the amount of money realised at the end of each month. A
card is sold for N200.
Also, his D&C booklet contains the list of young girls who come for
abortion daily during the morning hours, their card numbers, total bills
(depending on the age of the pregnancy), deposits and balance as well as
the total amount realised from the sale of admission cards. For example,
on August 25, 2008, the hospital performed 23 abortions and
realised N101,600 in cash while the total value of the admission cards
sold were put at N4,600.
On August 27, the hospital did 16 abortions, realised N85, 200 and sold
cards worth N3,200. Ezuma Hospital recorded 21 abortions on September 4,
at the total cost of N66,100 while. N4,200 was realised from the sale of
cards. About N300,000 was gotten from the sale of a baby. The following
day, 15 abortions were performed. The money realised from the abortion
and selling of cards were N80,000 and N3,000 respectively while a baby
was sold that day at the rate of N350,000. The following day,
September 6, the hospital did 32 abortions and realised N144,200. It also
got N6, 400 from the sale of cards and another N350,000 from the sale of
a baby. The hospital on September 9, performed 15 abortions. The money
realised was N80,100. The admission cards were valued at N3,000. There
was an adoption that day for which N350,000 was paid as recorded in the
Investigations showed that the room where these abortions are committed
is an eyesore. There is no running water and the only suction pump in the
room is obsolete and non-functional. The old standing fan in the room is
comatose. Abortion equipment is not usually sterilised due to the high
number of young girls on the queue and the floor of the room is covered
with drips of blood. An artisan who works close to the hospital said his
workshop is older than Ezuma hospital on that street. According to him,
events within the hospital in the past 20 years are atrocious. The man
who would not want his name to be mentioned for fear of victimisation
told Newswatch that his concern was the safety of the babies that
are taken from the hospital on daily basis. In his view, some of those
who buy the babies from the hospital seemed to be using them for things
other than keeping them as their children. He believes that ritualists
also patronise the place and added that such a place had existed
unhindered for these number of years because of the immense wealth and
influence of the owner.
Eme Ele, a neighbour of Ezuma who had the effrontery to advise him to
desist from such illegal acts would not forget his experience in a hurry.
Young boys allegedly prompted by Ezuma stormed Ele’s premises on November
4, last year and damaged some of his household properties. Ele who
promised to speak to Newswatch about the incident later changed
his mind, citing legal advise from his lawyers. But it was gathered that
Ele was apprehensive of further attacks.
Ezuma who described Ele as his good friend said it was Ele’s son who
began the fight against his boys and wife. He accused Ele of conspiring
with his first wife to poison him. According to him, that was the genesis
of their face-off. Ezuma is separated from his first wife who is a lawyer
and presently lives in Abuja.
Kingsley Enweremadu, the chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association,
NMA, Aba zone, declined to speak on the activities of Ezuma. He told
Newswatch that he would not react to verbal accusation unless it
was documented. But another doctor who pleaded anonymity informed
Newswatch that Ezuma is no longer a member of the NMA. According
to the doctor, Ezuma is not practicing medicine in his hospital. The man
confirmed that the illegal activities of the hospital are open
secret in Aba and its environs.
When Newswatch visited the Abia State Ministry of Health, Umuahia,
Sam Ahiwe, the commissioner who was visibly unhappy with the alleged
activities of Ezuma, directed the relevant units to respond to
Newswatch enquiries. The commissioner also authorised the relevant
units to commence investigation into the activities of Ezuma hospital.
Officials of the ministry’s department of medical services who responded
to Newswatch enquiries said Ezuma Hospital was registered with the
ministry based on Ezuma’s Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery, BM, Bch
qualification which he obtained from the University of Jos in 1983. He
also qualified as a general duty doctor and has no additional
qualification. “His hospital was registered but he has not come for
renewal since 2005. Since then, he has been functioning illegally. He is
not a specialist in any field and so cannot perform the work of a
gynecologist. His practicing licence which he is supposed to renew
annually from the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, MDCN, is not up
to date,” a source of the ministry told Newswatch. The
source added that the ministry would prosecute any hospital handling
illegal abortion if proven.
MDCN, is charged with the responsibility of disciplining erring members.
It is also mandated by the MDCN Act to register and de-register
hospitals. S.K Gyoh, chairman of the council, had on July 2007, said that
the council would soon ensure that doctors in Nigeria are not licenced to
practice, unless they show evidence of continuing professional
development. It is not yet clear whether this has been implemented.
A source said that every effort by the Church to dissuade Ezuma from
continuing with his activities was rebuffed. As a result, the Knighthood
conferred on him by his church was withdrawn. One of the priests in St
Josephs’s Catholic Parish, Aba, where Ezuma was once a member told
Newswatch that for the past two years, the doctor has not been
seen in the church. He confirmed that his Knighthood was withdrawn. The
priest stated that the church was inundated with complaints against Ezuma
and his activities in the hospital. He admitted that the man was very
influential and wealthy and so could not easily be controlled. He added
that the church was only praying that God would change him.
Ezuma who graduated from the University of Jos in 1983 with Bachelors of
Medicine, BM and Bachelor of Surgery, BCH indicated on his business
card that he has P.H.H (London) as one of his qualifications. But this
additional qualification is not in his file.
Sam Hatt, the chief press secretary, CPS, to the Abia state governor,
told Newswatch that the state government was not aware of the
activities in Ezuma Hospital. “We are not aware of such hospital. The
state ministry of health has set up a special task force to comb
everywhere so as to discover such hospitals where any act of illegality
thrives. But we cannot rule out the fact that some of them may not have
been discovered. However, this is an information which I can assure you
we would act upon immediately,” he said.