• Reuters

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Niger’s agriculture minister has been arrested on suspicion of involvement in a baby-trafficking network, a spokesman for his political party and legal sources said on Saturday.

The arrest of Abdou Labo, a senior figure in President Mahamadou Issoufou’s ruling coalition, comes after 17 people, including his wife and the spouses of other politicians, were arrested in June as part of a police investigation.

Following the arrest of his wife, Labo, who is one of five ministers of state in the 36-member government, denied any involvement in trafficking.

Niger police suspect those currently being detained of acquiring new-born babies from “baby factories” in neighboring Nigeria. The case has been referred to Niger’s public prosecutor.

Human trafficking and the sale of children is a long-standing issue across West Africa. Last year, police in Nigeria raided several “baby factories,” freeing dozens of pregnant girls who were being forced to bear children for sale.

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