James Azania, Lokoja
The Director of Child Welfare at the Kogi State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Mr. Omoyele Fatoye, is cooling his feet at the police ‘D’ Division Lokoja, for sexual harassment of a 25-year old lady simply identified as Blessing.
The said lady is said to be daughter of a woman, Mary James, who about two weeks ago, abandoned her day-old baby on a refuse dump, in the Otokiti area of the capital.
Fatoye who was brought out from the police cell, where he slept overnight, prostrated over and over, when ushered into the office of the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Ishaya Pam, pleading that he be forgiven.
The story of the abandoned but rescued baby was reported about a week ago, when members of the community that called in the officials of the Kogi State ministry of women affairs and social development, claimed that the baby had disappeared from the State Specialist Hospital.
Commissioner in charge of the ministry, Mrs. Bolanle Amupitan, was to confirm that the baby girl was in their care.
She was however unaware of the amorous dealings of her director, who had right from the onset collected Blessing’s phone contact, and continuously pestered her for sex.
Apparently unaware that the director had been cooling his feet in detention, the commissioner had earlier Friday morning, sent people out in search him out, when he did not arrive office in the morning as usual.
The commissioner, who spoke with our correspondent on the telephone, said that she knew nothing about the arrest.
According to the DPO, a Chief Superintendent of Police, the director was caught in the act, following his response to a distress call he received.
His words: “We caught him in the very act, with one of the children of the very woman whose child is in the custody of the government and under his care, being the director of child welfare in the ministry.”
Speaking further on the arrest of the child welfare director, he said, “I was coming from NUJ, then, I saw a missed call (unknown number to my phone). As DPO, I have to return missed calls. I called back and the person introduced herself as Blessing, a daughter to the mother of the abandoned child; that she is in distress, and in a house near Pati Guest Inn, here in Lokongoma, which is under my area of jurisdiction (AOR).
“Thereafter, I went there with two of my detectives around 21:45 hours (9.45pm). I saw Fatoye, the director and the girl, and we brought them to the station.
“We are investigating him on attempt to commit an offence and gross indecent assault, after which he will be charged to court.”
The police team was said to have met Blessing with her blouse already removed by the director and hung in his wardrobe.
Blessing, a wrestler, who was part of the Kogi State contingent to last years National Youth Games in Ilorin, Kwara State, said that the director collected her contact number the next day after her mother was arrested.
According to her: “On the day they arrested my mother, when I got to state CID, I found out that they were going to the ministry of women affairs, and I went with her. It was there I saw him (director). He said that he needed my contact; if I wanted to see the child that I’ll see through him. I gave him my contact number.
“They asked what I will say about my mom, and I said after everything she’s going to the village (in Jos). The woman (commissioner) said that she was angry with my mom, and that the child is not hers; that any child you turn your back on, is no longer yours. That, it belongs to the government and we left.
“When we got to where we were to sign, my mother said that she was not signing. The man said that if she liked the baby, why she didn’t stay to look after her.
“I called my auntie in Jos, to speak with her, but he said that nobody is talking to anybody on phone; that he doesn’t want to hear anybody on the phone. He now brought out ink pad for thumbprint, saying if she did not append, she’ll not leave there. He had to force my mom to thumbprint, after which he said I should sign.
“He threatened that the whole blame for whatever happens will be on me. I had to sign the paper. He said that I should take my mother to anywhere I wanted.
“I traveled on the time they found the baby, and when I came back, I met all these on ground. My mother pleaded with me to forgive her; that she did not know why she did that, that she was afraid. And, I forgave her.
“He (director) was calling me, saying he wants to see me that anywhere I am, I should come over. That time, I was so angry. I told him I’ll get back to him, but I did not. He kept calling. Thursday he called me and I said I was at home, and he said that I should meet him at Pati Guest Inn, and when I got there he took me to his house, which is not far from there. I was scared.
“When I got there, he now started touching me; robbing my breasts. I now asked him how much he was going to give me. He then pulled my blouse and hung it in the wardrobe. I imagined myself. I asked, what is his problem?
“He now told me that anytime I want to see the baby, I can come through him after then that he is going to give me N2, 000 next week…that he doesn’t want to take me like a prostitute, but only wanted to keep me for himself anytime he wants me. I wanted to go but he ordered that I stayed till the next day. I now said well…
“After then, I called the DPO. He called back, but he said I should call the next day, and I now said that I am in trouble. After that, he asked of my location and I described the place to him.”
Following allegations of the theft of the baby from the hospital, it was later confirmed to be in the custody of the state ministry of women affairs and social development, who by law is mandated to take into custody any such abandoned child.
Investigation by our correspondent showed that the alleged disappearance of the baby might not be unconnected with dashed expectations of some members the community where the baby was found, that they wanted monetary compensation from the ministry.
On the day the baby was discovered, the bewildered residents contacted the ‘D’ Divisional Police headquarters and officials of the state ministry of women affairs and social development.
The combined efforts of some members of the community and the authorities yielded results as the mother of the newborn was identified.
She was later handed over to the police for investigation.
The baby was taken to the specialist hospital for medical attention.
One of the residents, Ayodeji Ubeida, said they were dismayed when they learnt of the baby’s disappearance from the hospital.
“The baby was handed over on that day, and the mother who dumped it even breastfed her at the station, but to our utter dismay, we learnt that the child in the hospital has disappeared into thin air, while the mother is still in the police custody.
“This sudden disappearance of the child is a concern to the community. The ministry of women affairs and social development should speak out,” he demanded.
No baby disappeared in Kogi Specialist Hospital, says CMD
The Chief Medical Director (CMD), Kogi State Specialist Hospital (KSSH), Dr Ahmed Attach, refuted the allegation that the baby disappeared from the hospital where she brought to for medical attention by the ministry of women affairs and social development.
The CMD described the allegation as absolute falsehood.
He explained that the baby was brought to the hospital by the state ministry of women affairs for medical attention because the baby was having umbilical infections.
”The baby in question was brought to our hospital on Tuesday October 8, for proper care and assessment and to ensure that she does not have any health challenge. We gave her utmost attention wholeheartedly, and while in our custody, we saved the baby, took care of her and was treated to ensure that she did not suffer any health challenge.
”The baby was eventually discharged on Friday of that same week after full post-natal care was given to her.
”We are worried by the purported news of the baby’s disappearance; it is a negative propaganda to paint the hospital in a bad light, which is totally and absolutely false,” he said.
Attah said that the baby who was brought with umbilical infection, left the hospital hale and hearty, and had since been returned to the custody of ministry of women affairs.
The state commissioner for women affairs and social development, Bolanle Amupitan further explained that it is their duty to take charge of any such case, adding that the ministry has spent over N100, 000 to cater for the baby.
She said that the mother of the abandoned baby, who it was gathered is a widow, and has three other children, will be prosecuted after investigation by the police.