Anayo Onukwugha reports on the abominable action of a questionable pastor and a quack nurse who recently connived and sold a newborn baby of a poor family to a wealthy but childless couple for the sum of N150, 000. He says the duo however incurred the wrath of some irate members of the Port Harcourt community in Rivers State, who vandalised the church in anger over the vile action.
When Pastor George Brown of Divine Encounter Ministries Okocha Road Rumuolumeni, started his business in the outskirts of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, many saw him as a man with the Midas touch, who had the spiritual prowess to improve their fortunes.
Many, who had no children swooped on the church and before long started singing new songs and giving good testimonies of the goodness of the pastor and his able team. It was not long that the church began to witness a boom in membership its location in a village, notwithstanding.
It must have been on the strength of his good works to the brethren that women, who were under labour opted to have their babies in the church rather than go to the hospital.
But it was not long for the true identity of the 'powerful man of God' to be unveiled.
On February 3, 2012, a poor member of the church, Mary Sunday, 25, was in the church when suddenly she noticed that labour had started.
She was encouraged by the pastor to have her baby in the church, and she made no attempt to resist the offer by their spiritual head. She was asked to bring the things they had bought for their new born-baby.
While the poor woman was looking forward to having her new baby, it did not occur to her that she was in the wrong place at the right time. She did not suspect that the pastor could kill her joy in any way.
But something strange happened and left the poor woman with a sour taste. The pastor made the atmosphere the more suspicious and uncomfortable for the expectant mother.
Shortly after 'praying' for the woman, the pastor directed that she be taken to the church's 'special nurse', Ngozi Ebuni, who lives behind the Primary School near the church, and they obliged with immediate effect.
Ebuni, who was later discovered to be a traditional birth attendant, has been 'delivering' women of their babies through the crude way. She has never been trained as an orthodox nurse and does not have such expertise.
As soon as Ebuni saw the woman under labour, she collected her phone, switched it off and put her under pressure to push out the baby. She had other plans. She wanted the woman to be delivered of her baby and sold off before the arrival of her husband, whom they had sent home to bring materials for the baby.
Cut off from her husband and relatives, Mary and her struggling baby in the womb, were left at the mercy of the nurse and the couple who were waiting to take delivery of the expected baby as soon as the umbilical cord was severed of the mother.
In a bid to quicken the birth of the baby, Ebuni and her clique continued to inject Mary with substances believed to have the potential of forcing it out even though the stressed mother was complaining of weakness and pains. "She kept beating me and giving me injection although I was almost dead.
"At a point, the nurse brought out a pair of scissors and cut my private part all in a bid to force out my baby and I could not bear the pains. I passed out at that point but she did not care, the young mother, who hails from Yala in Cross River State, said.
But luck shone on her when out of the pains and torture, the baby came out and she heaved a sigh of relief, which was at once replaced with agony. Despite her pains, she summoned strength to look at the baby and found out that she had been delivered of a baby girl.
The tears and pains immediately gave way to joy again and she was heads high and full of joy and gratitude to God. However, by the time she went into sleep and woke up, the live baby had been replaced with a doll and carefully wrapped and placed by her bed side.
That was what her distressed husband, Sunday, came to see when he eventually waddled his way into the nurse house. By the time he arrived, the nurse had sold off the baby and disappeared into thin air. He could not take that for a joke. He was highly infuriated and was ready to take any action to prove that his wife did not give birth to a doll as claimed.
He reported the whole episode to the Police in Rumuolumeni and asked them to investigate the pastor and the nurse for their role in the whole despicable affair. Unlike the police, they did not waste time in moving in.
They promptly arrested the pastor, the sister of the nurse and eventually traced the buyer of the baby to a neighbourhood where a welcome party was in progress for the baby..
By the time the police arrived the party venue, a big celebration was going on-men and women were eating, dancing and exchanging banters for the birth of a baby to a couple who had been barren for 25 years. Unknown to the invitees, the couple were merely celebrating a stolen baby, which they allegedly bought for the sum of N150, 000 from the nurse, who had since escaped.
It was an irony of some sort that while the poor mother was weeping and writhing in pains in a near-by dirty and illegal TBA home, a rich couple was celebrating her own child through the fraudulent activity of a man, who claims to be working for God and a nurse.
The police quickly seized the baby from the celebrants, terminated the party and took some persons to their custody in order to find out their roles in the infamous and shameful act.
Among those arrested were the pastor and those found in the home who led them to the discovery of the hideout of the 'nurse.' Under intense interrogation, the 'nurse' was said to have confessed to collecting N150, 000 to sell the baby to the childless couple.
Convinced that the pastor played an active but illicit role in the sordid affair, the police on Thursday arraigned Pastor George Brown before to a Port Harcourt Magistrate Court for conniving with two women to sell a new-born baby for N150, 000.00.
Brown, 32, is the senior pastor of Divine Encounter Ministries, Port Harcourt is facing trial alongside one Mrs. Tina Tekebe, 46, who allegedly bought the child while the third accused, Blessing Ngozi Ebuni, who works as a mid-wife in the Divine Encounter Ministries, is still at large.
The mother of the child, Grace Sunday, who hails from Yala local government area of Cross River State, had alleged that the Brown and Ebuni swapped her new-born child with a doll immediately after her delivery and sold the new baby to a barren woman, Tekebe.
A case of child abduction had been preferred against the suspects, who first appeared before Magistrate Court presided over by Mrs. Betty Sunny-Hart on February 3, 2011 on charge number PMC/176C/12, with a police Sergeant, Jonas Rufus, as the prosecutor.
The charge sheet reads: "That you Tina Tekebe ('f') and Pastor George Brown conspired with one Ngozi Ebuni (f') now at large at Nkpor Village Rumuolumeni in the Port Harcourt Magisterial District and did conspire with her to commit felony to wit child stealing and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 516A of the Criminal Code Cap 37, Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria 1999."
The accused persons pleaded not guilty and were ordered to remain in police custody till next mention of the case. The hunt for the suspected seller, Ebuni, said to have other cases with the police, continues.
However, the case could not come up on Thursday, February 16, 2011 at Magistrate Court 10 due to the swearing in of six mew judges of the Rivers State High Court by Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.
However, Pastor Brown still insists that he did not commit any crime and wants N180,000.00 as compensation from the Rumuolumeni youths for vandalising his church.