By Chiemelie Ezeobi
Policemen attached to the Alakuko Police Division of the Lagos State Police Command have arrested a female pastor for allegedly abducting a 9-day-old baby.
The pastor who was identified as the Founder of Word Encounter Ministry, Ijaiye, Mrs Esther Ozuem, was arrested by policemen after she came to the station to report a case of child abandonment in her church.
The case however took another twist, following police investigation by the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID), Panti, Yaba, where it was discovered that Ozuem allegedly stole a member’s new born baby and made it look as if the baby was abandoned in her church.
The mother of the baby, Christiana Ebele, 24 , in her statement to the police alleged that her son was stolen by her pastor after she went to her for financial assistance.
She said: “I am from a poor home and my family cannot assist me. I got pregnant with my second child but my boyfriend abandoned me when I told him I was pregnant. My elder sister took me to her church where I met Pastor Esther.
“My sister told her that we are poor and we cannot take care of the pregnancy and when the baby is born, life will be harder for us. I was eight months pregnant and she agreed to help me.
“Pastor Esther took me in and she promised to help establish me financially after I give birth. She told me that she will give me money to start a business and cater for the child.
“However, after I gave birth, she changed towards me. The day I gave birth, she refused to take me to the hospital. She brought a nurse to help deliver me of the baby.
” Although it was raining heavily, to my shock, she took the baby from me immediately after I gave birth and warned me not to touch the child. She also told me not to breastfeed the baby and when the baby was crying and I attempted to feed him, she got angry and chased me out of the house in the rain.
“I was crying but she did not allow me to carry my baby. I had to find my way to my sister’s house and I told her what happened.”
Asked why she did not report the case to the police, Ebele blamed illiteracy, adding that her poor financial condition also hindered her from seeking justice.
She said, “I don’t have money. I am very poor and can barely feed myself. My mother is also poor and other members of my family are not doing fine financially and because of this, I decided to leave everything to God to give me justice.
“I found out that Pastor Esther took my son and she had a child naming ceremony for him without informing me. She named him Temple Ozuem and even took him to the health centre and registered him as her son.
“I don’t know why she came to report to the police but even now I can’t cater for him. I need help and it is not true that I sold my baby. She did not give me any money. I only approached her for help and she said she will help me but she turned around and slapped me when I wanted to breastfeed my child.
“She showed me love when I was pregnant but after I gave birth, she took the baby from me and threw me out in the rain.”
Although the said Pastor had registered the baby at the National Primary Health Care Development Agency with the name Ozuem and her mother’s name as Chinyere Ozuem where the child was immunised, she however maintained she didn’t steal the baby.
In her statement to the police, Ozuem said she was merely taking care of the baby after the mother abandoned the child and fled.
Police sources at the SCID who spoke to THISDAY said they were also investigating Ozuem over fresh allegations that the three children she claimed were hers may not actually be her biological children.