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Friday, July 1, 2011

7 ‘miracle babies’: We’ll unravel the issue soon — Police

The dust raised by the alleged birth of seven babies in less than one year is yet to settle. While the alleged mother of the babies insist they are hers and surrenders herself and the babies for DNA test, Imo State Police Command has accepted the challenge and is currently investigating the incident. Saturday Vanguard exclusively spoke to Assistant Commissioner of Police, ACP, in charge of the Criminal Investigation Department, Mr. Emmanuel Ojukwu. Excerpts.

How did the police step into the mystery babies story?
Yes, the police came into the picture as soon as we read the publications in
newspapers that one Mrs. Precious Ogbonna gave birth to seven children within a
space of 11 months, we naturally became curious.
The answer is very simple. This report runs contrary to the laws of nature. It is a strange development that needs to be properly investigated. The woman at the centre of the controversy calls it a miracle. So, we are interested in finding out if it is actually a miracle for which we give God the glory or there is a fraud somewhere. In the police, we suspect everything.
So, what are you doing now?
We are investigating the veracity or otherwise of the woman’s claims.
How did you arrest her?
She is a General Overseer of a church and churches normally meet on Sundays. So, on a Sunday we went there to worship with them. We saw her with the children and thereafter, other things followed. Detectives went to her church here in Owerri, traced her and we were able to pick her and placed her under arrest.  She is now under our custody. We also recovered the seven children. These children are innocent children. They look up to us as adults and their best friends. It is our duty to protect them. They look up to us to protect them. They are vulnerable. If they are stolen children or came into her through ways that are not authorized, we owe it a duty as responsible Nigerians to protect them, protect their interest. Any of them can the nation’s president tomorrow.
Where are these children now. Are they also in police custody?
We have rescued them. We have kept them in safe custody in one of the good homes. The Nigerian Police is seeing to their welfare in collaboration with the organization that is keeping them.
What do you call the organization?
Sorry, I will not make public the name of the organization. All I can say is that it is an approved organization and recognized by government.
What else have you done?
The woman is in our custody and we have been able to raise a medical team through the help of a government hospital. The medical team is examining her to know if her womb had carried any baby in recent time and if so, how many. We also expect the medical team to ascertain if it is possible to have seven children in one year.  Medical people are going to determine that bit of the puzzle.
Have you conducted medical tests on the woman and the children?
Yes. We have conducted a number of tests, including genotype and the rest of them. I am not competent to talk about the tests but a team of experienced Nigerian medical doctors have examined her on a number of issues. They will help to determine if she was actually the mother of the seven children. The results are coming out in bits and in a few days time. We are also proposing to do a DNA test on the woman and the children. The DNA should be the final test to fully determine their maternity or blood relationship between her and those children.  We really want to prove if she had these children correctly or she got them from some unauthorized sources. Every Nigerian is interested in this matter.
Have you interrogated her husband?
Yes. We have been able to contact her husband and he has spoken to us on a number of issues. The husband is Donatus Ogbonna, a 48-year old furniture maker, a Christian and lives here in Owerri. He has made a statement to the police and given his own side of the story. So, we are going to match it with the results of the medical tests we are going to give Nigerians the result of our findings, as to the truth or otherwise of the woman’s claims that she had these babies in one year.
Will the police also match the medical tests of the children with that of their alleged father?
This should be left with the medical team. If the medical team so decides, they will do it. The woman’s husband is ready and willing and very much available.  He is in very close contact with the police. However, I do know that if they are able to match her DNA with any of the children, then we must have established a point.  So, the medical team will determine what next to do.
Apart from what has been published in newspapers, are there fresh things you have unearthed?
Police investigation is normally holistic. In the course of our investigation, we had cause to interrogate a number of people, who will stand as witnesses. She has mentioned hospitals that she attended. The police will be visiting them in Port Harcourt.  By tomorrow, we will be in those hospitals and look at a number of other issues. Our investigation has been very thorough. I can assure you that in a week’s time, we will be able to get a good result that will assuage the feelings of Nigerians.
If you don’t mind, where exactly are these children kept?
For their safety, it is not proper to disclose where we are keeping them right now. They are in a safe home, a safe approved, competent home; well managed and recognized by both the federal government and other international organizations.  We don’t need to mention where they are for their own safety and we don’t want  their picture to appear in any paper. It is in their best interest. The best interest of the children are our concern.
Is the police keeping close watch over the children?
Yes, we have 24-hour guard over the children where they are right now. We don’t ave any complain about their safety or welfare. The police authorities are seeing to that in concert with the organization that is keeping them.
Can you tell us how much the police has spent on the children so far?
We are taking good care of them. They are our children. I don’t normally count the cost of training my children or feeding them everyday. They are our children. They belong to all of us and once they are in police custody, the police should take care of them. So, we are not counting costs. We want them to be safe and sound and to become good Nigerians after this episode.
How long do you intend to keep her in custody?
As long as the time permitted by law and for as long as investigations continue, we will keep visiting her case. But I think that a definite decision will be taken as soon as the DNA test is over.
Is there any other information you would like to give us?
For now, all I want to tell Nigerians is that the police is committed and determined to get to the end of this issue. We are determined to find the paternity and maternity of these children. If the children belong to her, we wish them the best of luck. If they don’t belong to her, the police will make concerted effort to reunite them with their legitimate families and to find the link between her and those children.
Is the police suspecting child trafficking in this case?
It is possible there is a trafficking somewhere and it is our duty to stop such trafficking from continuing, from gaining root. We will get to the root of  it and break that network so that our children will have a brighter future.
Can you confirm  if she has made any confessional statement?
There is no confessional statement of any kind on her part. The police is not expecting her to confess. We want to go through it thoroughly and professionally. We are painstaking in our bid to get to the root of the matter.

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