Baby stealing: Court dismisses application by hospital matron

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By Abdulwahab Abdulah

LAGOS— An Akwa Ibom State High Court sitting in Ikot Ekpene has dismissed an application  filed by Mbetobong Polycarp Effiong, a matron of Etido Hospital and Maternity Clinic, Ikot Ekpene, asking it to restrain the police from arresting her over alleged stealing of a new born baby.

In a ruling delivered by Justice Stephen Okon on the fundamental rights enforcement procedure filed by the woman, the court wondered why such application restraining the police from carrying out their statutory duty was brought before the court.

To this end, the judge held that the application lacks merit and it was subsequently dismissed.

Joined as respondents in the case filed by the matron alongside her two staff, Nseobong Ibanga and Ime Bassey, were the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ralph William and his wife, Rev. Adetoun Ralph Williams.

Meanwhile, the police have been instructed to reopen thier investigation of the case following the vacation of the court case which had prevented further probe into the allegation of baby stealing levelled against Polycarp Effiong.
In the court’s ruling, Justice Okon held: “It is unfortunate that this application was ever brought before this court. It is even more unfortunate that the so-called reliefs claimed by the applicants were purportedly made pursuant to the provisions of the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, 2009.

“Those rules can only be resorted to if and only if the applicants can show that any of the fundamental rights guaranteed in Chapter IV of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), to which he is entitled, has been, is being, or likely to be infringed.

“Thast is not the case here, where the applicants are merely praying the court to retrain the police from doing their statutory duty; and also, to direct the 2nd and 3rd respondents ‘to go back to the Nigeria Police Command, Ikot Akpan Abia, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State to continue with their complaint pending threat.’”

The respondents in the suit have lodged complaint to the police alleging that the 1st applicant allegedly connived with other applicants “to steal their new born baby boy” which made them to lodge a report at the Area Command, Ikot Ekpene.

They also alleged that the matter was latter taken to the state Police Headquarters,  Ikot Akpan Abia, Uyo, when the matter was not properly handled at the command, a fresh report was made at the Zone 6 Police Headquarters, Calabar, when an alleged assassination attempt was made on the lives of the Williams.

According to them, the IGP eventually directed the matter to be investigated by Zone 6, police headquarters, Calabar, a development that was rejected by Mrs. Polycarp Effiong which made her filed the dismissed suit in court.

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