From OKEY SAMPSON, Aba
Two prophetesses have been arrested by the police in Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State for stealing and selling day-old baby girl, the child of one Grace, 23, from Abiriba in Ohafia Local Government Area of the state. The arrested prophetesses, Loreta Emmanuel and Sylva were from Owerri Imo State.
Daily Sun gathered that a man, Grace said was her boyfriend, got her impregnated, promising to marry her. However, Grace, who dropped out of secondary school due to her father’s ill-health, was disappointed when her boyfriend reneged on his promise and she became confused.
As she had nobody to help see her through the pregnancy, she contemplated dragging the man to the welfare department in Aba so that he could be compelled to take care of her until she put to bed. Grace was said to have intimated Loreta, a mother of seven who lived in the same area with her of her plans.
But Loreta advised her to the contrary and instead told Grace that she would take her to a prayer ministry where, with prayers, her boyfriend would have a change of mind. The girl bought into the idea and in August last year, Loreta took her to one prayer house at Umuocho village, Osusuamaukwa in Obingwa Local Government Area of the state, owned by Prophetess Sylva.
Grace stayed in the prayer house for months without her prayers being answered and without also being allowed by the women to go home. They were deceiving her with false prophecy that God revealed to them that she would die if she decided to go home and give birth outside the ministry.
Grace out of fear that she might die decided to stay with them. When it was about time for Grace to deliver, Sylva took her to their home and introduced her to one Apostolic Church in Ekeakpara in Osisioma Ngwa Local Government Area where she attended occasionally. Grace was delivered of a baby girl on January 2 at the Apostolic Church and hours later she was brought back to Sylva’s house together with the baby.
But the unexpected happened the following day when Grace went to take her birth. Before then, another woman, who was later identified as Ijeoma, a nurse, had visited them. Grace told Daily Sun that as she came out of the bathroom, she saw the two prophetesses and the nurse carrying the baby and were about moving into a waiting car and when she enquired where they were taking her child to, they told her that the baby was very sick and wanted to take her to where she would be treated.
“I wanted to go with them but Loreta said I should stay behind and have some rest since it had not been long I put to bed. When I insisted, she said she had seven children and that she would not do anything bad to me, saying I was like a child to her. With these words and being somebody I knew, I stayed back.”
After a while, according to Grace, who wanted the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and other Related Matters (NAPTIP) to come into the matter since she had no one to stand for her, “Loreta and Sylva came back to the house without the baby and when I asked them about the child, they told me that the sickness became worse and she died.
“As I did not believe their story, I demanded for the corpse, but they kept telling me cock and bull story and after putting much pressure on them they admitted that the baby was somewhere, saying I should pay them N1.5 million which they claimed was the amount they spent in taking care of me all the while I was pregnant. “I told them if that was the case, they should bring back the baby I suffered so much to have and after a while, that I will rally round and get some money to pay them. But they said I was joking and threatened to deal with me if I ask them about the baby again because they knew I had nobody that could come for me.”
The matter was reported to the police then and the two women became evasive. They could not be arrested as both of them parked out from their houses and relocated their ministries. While Loreta parked out from her No. 42 Amos Street to Okohia Street and relocated her ministry to Umuode in Osisioma Ngwa Local Government where she was arrested, Sylva on her own parked out from Ekeakpara and relocated her ministry to Abala in Obingwa Local Government.
However, luck ran out on the two women when following a fresh complaint by Grace, the police in Aba, led by one Rotimi with other security agencies, arrested the two prophetesses who confessed to the crime. They were said to have admitted selling the baby to a lady in Port Harcourt, Rivers State with the help of Ijeoma, the nurse who was still at large, for N300, 000.
While a senior police officer said the suspects would be transferred to the SCID, Umuahia, Grace was worried that transferring the case to Umuahia would create a problem for her and probably make the women go scot free since she said she did not have the money to be attending the matter at the state capital. She urged NAPTIP to intervene immediately and work with the police to help her recover her baby.