N June 12, 2019, a team of policemen, headed by ASP Abubakar Clement and operating under the Safer Highway Squad, arrested one Ijeoma Ibeh with a three-day-old twin in her custody along the Ughelli/Evwreni axis of the East-West Road in Delta State. An investigation by Sunday Vanguard revealed that upon interrogation of the “nursing mother” by the police team, she could not give “satisfactory explanation” of how she came about the pregnancy or babies; hence she was taken to the Ughelli ‘A’ Division Police Station on suspicion of child theft.
Subsequently, the state Commissioner of Police, Mr Adeleke Adeyinka, directed that the matter be transferred to the command’s headquarters for further investigation. Contacted on the matter, the police boss said: “We have been sued over the incident but I can’t speak with you on the matter over the phone.”
Meanwhile, findings by Sunday Vanguard revealed that the woman has since been released after investigations by the police which described her as a “victim of circumstance” in her quest to mother a baby. A source at the Ughelli Police Area Command said that following a DNA test carried out on the babies and the suspect, it was discovered that she was not the mother of the babies and might have only been deceived into thinking she had a cryptic pregnancy leading to the birth of the twin babies.
The source said: “Upon interrogation, she disclosed how she had travelled to meet a woman in Port Harcourt who placed her on some drugs with the belief that she was pregnant. “She claimed that the woman also told her not to go for a scan or attend the anti-natal clinic and that when it was time for her to put to bed, she must return to Port- Harcourt for her delivery. She also insisted that she birthed the babies and went through the whole childbirth process, but the DNA result proved otherwise.
“Unfortunately, she was unable to locate the Port-Harcourt address where she allegedly put to birth.” Crypto pregnancy, also known as stealth pregnancy, is a pregnancy that regular medical testing systems may not detect and has contributed to the child trade boom in parts of the country particularly in the South-East.
Though the definition doesn’t go with the current cryptic pregnancy, these women describe their pregnancy as “cryptic” and even have a WhatsApp and Facebook group where they share their testimonies unknowing to them that they are birthing children bought by these “midwives” from child making factories.
Sunday Vanguard was able to get into two of the Facebook groups where it was discovered how these women, who have since formed a community among themselves, not only share their motherhood “testimonies,” but also provide support to young cryptic pregnant ladies and those planning to embark on such baby-making venture.
In the Cryptic Pregnancy Not Phantom Pregnancy Facebook group, with 573 members as of penultimate Tuesday, some of the ladies were asking how to tell when they go into labour while one specifically asked if she could breastfeed her baby after birth. Also, on the Nigeria Cryptic Pregnancy, with a 664-member closed group, which has one Esohe Ajebon as an administrator, members (women) were giving their “testimonies” on how they became mothers through cryptic methods.
Recounting her story, a 45-year-old mother of one (name withheld), who later found out that she was given a child during her supposed childbirth, said: “Having been married for over seven years, a friend of mine introduced me to Mummy B, a retired medical matron who has her nursing home somewhere in Anambra State, and told me that she could assist me in getting pregnant for a specific amount of money depending on the sex of the baby.
“She (Mummy B) told me that she would assist me in getting pregnant but that when I get pregnant, I shouldn’t go for ante-natal or scan because the baby won’t be seen in the scan and that I must come to her for delivery when I am due because it would be a cryptic pregnancy. “Meanwhile, during my pregnancy, I was still seeing my period while my stomach was protruding, and this got me worried, but I was going back to her for treatment.
When it was close to my time, I went and stayed with her for some days until I put to birth. “However, we noticed foul play when it was later discovered that my son was SS while my husband is AS and I am AA. My husband knows me very well did not suspect that I was carrying another man’s child but we decided to consult a doctor and that was when we found out what had likely transpired.”
‘I paid N1.5m for a male child’
Another woman, who also spoke to Sunday Vanguard, said she and her husband were made to pay N1, 500, 000 for a male child.
She said: “A friend introduced me to this midwife who promised to help me give birth to the baby of my dreams under her strict guideline. We were made to pay N1, 500, 000 for a male child. After payment was made, the lady inserted something into my private part after which I was asked to ensure I continued having regular intercourse with my husband and return in a month time.
“Upon my return, I was told I was pregnant in a cryptic way and that I should not bother going to the hospital for ante-natal, pregnancy test or scan because the baby won’t show in the test of the scan.
“I was also asked to return to the clinic every month for my regular injection until my due date which was done through Caesarean Section.”
Medics blame the desperation of women
Speaking to Sunday Vanguard, Dr. Innis Agaja, explained that fake doctors/midwives inject their supposed patients with different types of hormonal drugs with various adverse effects on these women that give them all the symptoms of being pregnant including bulging stomachs and order them not to visit hospital as the pregnancy will never be revealed in scan machines.
She explained that strange as it may sound, these women, most times, and their husbands owing to their desperation for children become easy prey after being brainwashed into believing that the foetus (babies) are positioned somewhere different from the womb hence can’t be detected by regular scanning machines.
Agaja went on “Cryptic pregnancy or stealth or delayed pregnancy is a lack of subjective awareness of pregnancy until the end of gestation in pregnant women. They aren’t common, but they’re not unheard of, either and have an incidence of 1:475.
“There is no medical literature to support the fact that someone can make you pregnant in a cryptic way.” Also speaking, another medical doctor, Dr Sarah Adamagu, said: “What I think these midwives do is that they inject these women with an extremely high level of oestrogen and other hormonal drugs which make the abdomen to bloat, enlarge and form cysts with the appearance of them being pregnant.
“Mind you, these midwives do not bother about the negative effects of the high doses of these hormones that are injected into these women such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer and stroke. “On the due date, the victims are sedated with anaesthesia in a fake Caesarean Section and, upon their waking up from the effect of the anaesthesia, they will find babies by their side depending on the amount paid.
However, most of these women, depending on the particular midwife, are unable to breastfeed the babies. “As medics, we believe this is what has given rise and encouraged the baby factories in parts of the country as there is high demand for newborn babies in the country.”