The Personal Assistant to Ebonyi State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Steve Ali, has allegedly kept another person’s child for four years, despite a restraining court judgment.
A lady, 37, from Anambra State, Miss Ifeoma Chukwu, had accused the Ebonyi State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development of giving her male child to the Commissioner’s PA, who she alleged had seized the child for four years against her wish.
She appealed, through the National Human Rights Office, Abakaliki, to Governor David Umahi and all good spirited individuals to assist her in recovering her four-year-old son from Ali, The Point reports.
She claimed that the PA had taken the boy from the Ministry of Women Affairs for fostering, having heard of her story, coupled with the lack of foster homes in the state, adding, however, that he had now bluntly refused to return her biological son to her.
Narrating her ordeal, the Physics Education graduate of the University of Jos revealed that, shortly after her National Youth Service Corps in 2016, she had a mental challenge, which forced her out of her home in Anambra State to Ebonyi, where she settled for some time, while her family searched for her at home.
According to Ifeoma, she was raped and impregnated by an unknown man on her way to Ebonyi State, where she delivered her baby boy and both of them were taken to Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, by passersby for medical attention.
She said she ran away from the hospital and abandoned her child because she was not in her “right senses” then.
The lady who chronicled all that transpired to her family after she recovered fully, revealed that she usually regained her senses intermittently, which made her remember where she went, including the fact that she had a child in Ebonyi State.
Corroborating her story, her elder sister, Mrs. Ifeyinwa Nzenwa, told journalists that the Commissioner’s PA had defied all recovery measures, including a judgment in their favor, given by a court of competent jurisdiction, sitting in Abakaliki, on the matter.
Earlier, during the press conference, organized by the National Human Rights Commission, the State Coordinator of the Commission, Onyedikachi Okorie, who said the matter was referred to Ebonyi from the Commission’s Enugu branch, noted that investigations had not commenced and urged the public to always play by the rule of law.
He called on the Governor, commissioners, and corporate bodies, among others, to assist the Commission in achieving its core mandate.
Responding to the allegation during a telephone interview, the Commissioner’s PA, Ali, said, “I am not keeping any Ifeoma’s child against her wish. One Ifeoma Chukwu, as they said, abandoned her child at the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki. Because of that, the hospital wrote to the State Women Affairs Ministry about the abandonment. That was when the child was seven months old. The hospital gave the child to the Ministry of Women Affairs and the ministry, in turn, gave the child to me and my wife, including a letter that the said child was abandoned.
“The child was given to me for both fostering and adoption. There is nothing like fostering in Nigeria; you don’t foster a child and another person adopts. It is only in the United States that people assist to foster and later give up. It was in the process of the adoption that we discovered that some group of people had been hired by the Director of Child Protection in the said ministry to come and claim the child because they were bribed.”
He claimed that the ministry did not complete the adoption process, owing to that reason, saying, “It is only one form that is remaining to be signed for the official adoption to be completed. It was at this stage that Ifeoma came and said the child was her own. Now, the issue of abandonment has not been investigated, which you know is a crime in the Child Rights Act and Ebonyi State Child Rights Law 2010. It attracts the prison penalty.
“Now, my lawyer sued the ministry to complete the adoption process by signing that particular form that is remaining. One, the matter, as I speak, is in court. Two, the adoption process is still in magistrate court. Three, the said judgment in the matter is now before an Appeal Court, sitting in Enugu State. We have a paper from the hospital, stating the abandonment, and another letter from the state Ministry of Women Affairs, also stating the abandonment. So every other thing is pending the Appeal Court judgment.”
“So, we did not steal anybody’s child, neither did we take anybody’s child by force, neither did we go to her house to take her child. We are only having an abandoned child,” Ali explained.
Meanwhile, The Point gathered that the defendant had only female children, which might be the reason for the attachment to the said boy.
Efforts to speak with the State Women Affairs Commissioner, Ogbuewu Rebecca; and the Director in charge of child protection, Godwin Igwe, did not yield a positive result.
As of the time of filing this report, none of them had picked or returned numerous calls to them on the telephone.