20170819

Mothers Tell Enugu Government: Give Us Our Real Babies

…demand DNA testThe story of Miss Chijindu Nworie & Miss Emmanuala Nwedu started in March, 2016. The Enugu State Police Command Police charged the ladies to court for conspiracy and child trafficking. This was after they were arrested alongside two other ladies and a proprietor of an alleged baby factory in the state.

They were charged to court, but granted bail. Then they were both 8 months pregnant. They were, however, remanded in prison when they couldn’t meet their bail conditions.

Officials of the State Ministry of Gender Affairs and Social Development, later got permission from the prison authorities to take the ladies to hospital for safe delivery. The ministry, however, said it would keep the babies at a foster home, while the ladies returned to prison.

Exactly a year and eight months later, the ladies were finally able to meet their bail conditions.

According to New Telegraph, they were able to do so with assistance from some humanitarian organisations. The ladies demanded for their children and urged government to carry out DNA tests in order to ascertain the babies paternity.

A source said: “The call for DNA became necessary after the ladies observed that the children presented to them by government, looked younger than their children who should be a year and five months.”

The ladies also argued that the test was vital, because the babies were taken from them barely hour after they put to bed.

Nworie and Nwedu rejected the two babies presented to them at the office of the State Commissioner for Gender Affairs, Mrs. Peace Nnaji.

Determined to ensure the babies were truly theirs, the mothers petitioned Amnesty International, explaining that the ministry forcibly collected their babies from them since March 2016. The ministry has denied the allegation.

Nworie and Nwedu alleged that some persons wanted them to part with the babies for N50,000 each after delivery. They turned down the offer, but the babies were allegedly later forcibly taken from them by the ministry.

Thursday last week was fixed for handover of the children. But at the ceremony, the mothers, in conjunction with their relatives, rejected the children, demanding DNA test.

Officials of the National Human Rights Commission, (NHRC), National Agency for Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (NAPTIP) and other rights groups, all supported the call for DNA test. Nnaji said the government didn’t mind the DNA, as long as it was not expected to pay for it.

Commissioner for Information, Ogbuagu Anikwe, said: “Enugu State government is embarrassed. We can’t do a DNA test because it will imperil the government in doing such humanitarian jobs.

Those making such allegation should prove it. We will take steps to ensure that our credibility is not doubted in future. We have invited them to call their doctors and in the presence of the Human Rights Commission, we will conduct the DNA tests. But the parents will have to pay for it.”

Anikwe also faulted the allegation by the mothers that they were offered N50,000 each to forfeit their babies. He noted that the mothers or their relatives never visited the ministry, until Thursday. He disclosed that rigorous investigation would be carried out to clear all doubts.

Damian Ugwu, Amnesty International Researcher, said: “The ladies said that their babies are a year and six months, but the children presented to them didn’t look that age.

They can’t recognise their children, thus the call for DNA tests. Although we’re trying to explore peaceful resolution, but we’re also ready to go to any level to know the truth.

“The two ladies were not the only ones that government took their babies from. They took several. Other ladies were offered N50,000 and babies collected. These two rejected the money, thus their long stay in prison. Amnesty International got them out of prison after one year. The right thing is also for government to pay for the DNA tests.”

Police woman, Gloria Udoka, said that in January 2016, four pregnant girls were “rescued in Ozor’s residence, a notorious child trafficker in Udi, Enugu State; but two of the girls had already given up their babies for adoption. The other two, Emmanuela Nwendu and Chidindu Nworie, were bailed after series of investigations.”

One of the mothers, Nworie, said she was working as a salesgirl before she got pregnant for her boyfriend.

She said: “Out of shame and fear, I ran away from the home of my uncle, Mr Uchenna Nworie. He is now based in Cote d’Ivoire. While looking for a clinic to take care of my pregnancy, I was directed to Moonlight Hospital. It was there I was introduced to a doctor; Dr. Ozor Akpudachie.

At that clinic, I also met two other girls: Miracle Onwe and Ajie Chigozie.”

Nworie recalled that she and other ladies were arrested by a team of policemen and officials of the Enugu State Ministry of Gender Affairs and Social Development.

Since the handing over of the babies was not successful, a new date was fixed between the mothers and government for the commencement of the DNA tests.