BY ISHOLA BALOGUN
The striking story of Precious Donatus Ogbonna, the miracle birth woman is becoming very endless. In a quick rehash, Precious Donatus Ogbonna, the General overseer of Christ Salvation Ministry, Owerri, claimed she had seven babies in one year, each within a space of one month.
A DNA was sponsored by Vanguard and there came the revelation: Precious Ogbonna was not the biological mother of the babies. Where did she get the babies from? Investigations conducted and several homes where phantom deliveries take place were discovered including the places she claimed she had the babies.
Precious Ogbonna was arrested, taken into custody and charged to court for child trafficking and related offences. The miracle babies were kept in RedCross orphanage in Owerri. Sooner than later, one died, three were taken away from the home to an unknown place. She was released on bail and went for baby number eight.
Now, where are the babies who were said to have been taken away from RedCross Orphanage about three four months ago? Are they alive? How are they faring? The entire story is becoming unending as issues about the welfare of the babies are revibrating.
When Saturday Vanguard visited the home, only three of the babies were found and the situation remained the same when we visited again recently to see if there was any new development. At the home which has four rows of about 15 baby cots had 10 babies between the age of 0-2years.
Staff of the home declined comment on the whereabout of other Precious Ogbonna’s babies. But an inside source claimed the Police took them away. Further investigations revealed that they were kept in another welfare home in Owerri.
Just few days ago, the acclaimed mother of the babies, Precious Ogbonna said the babies Conqueror, 19months; Chizitere, 18months; and Fineseed, 15 months; (females) have not been returned, leaving only Ekpereamaka, 16months; Flourish, 12months; and Ebenezer, 8months (males) in the home. She stressed that security reasons were cited by a police source just as she wonderd why they would have to be kept apart.
When contacted on phone, the ACP State CID, Owerri, Mr. Emmanuel Ojukwu also declined comment. When asked whether the babies are still in their custody, he said: “the case is in court and I can’t comment on it.” But where are the three babies? Why are they being kept apart and why are others still being kept at Redcross orphanange if truly those were the reasons?
How does the home raise funds and materials for the welfare and day-to-day upkeep of children in the home? Besides, a source maintained that the home relies on daily contribution and gifts from good spirited Nigerians for the upkeep of children adding that gifts and contributions no matter how little are being recorded immediately they acknowledge it. When SaturdayVanguard visited, only few individuals were seen bringing gifts to the home.
Counsel to Precious Ogbonna, Barrister N.B.E Nwigwe who is also the Chairman of Ethics and Disciplinary Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association, Owerri branch said: “I don’t want to go beyond my brief. I have not gone to the home to see the babies and she has not told me that three of them are missing. I can’t comment on that.” He noted that he cannot seek for the release of the babies until “they formally arraign her and we quash the case; it will appear premature to ask for the release of the babies now,” he stressed.
However, a source who preferred anonymity disclosed to Saturday Vanguard that the babies lack proper care adding that the home did not have enough resources but only rely on gifts by individuals.
“They are not receiving adequate care. How much funds are they getting? They are doing their” said a source. The source further observed that the environment is a problem because there are lots of mosquitoes there. “Recently, two of the three kids there had cold and it is a regular thing which is not good for the babies,” the source said.
Asked whether a formal complaint was lodged on this issue, our source said “the Matron was not available as at the time of the visit but maintained that the police will have to present the babies to the court when the time is right.”
The case will be heard again on December 13 at Owerri Court 1.