From AMEDU JOSEPH, Lokaja
The mother of abandoned baby in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, Mary James is to be prosecuted by the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development for her inhuman act.
The Kogi State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Hon. Bolanle Amupitan, who gave the hint to our Correspondent, confirmed that the abandoned baby which was found in a dustbin at Otokiti village in Lokoja few weeks ago is safe and sound in the ministry’s orphanage.
It would be recalled that a woman, Mary James, had on October 8, 2019, allegedly abandoned her one-day old baby at a refuse dump at Otokiti village in Lokoja.
Residents of the community who found the baby alerted Kogi Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development about the incidence, and the baby was rescued and taken to the State Specialist Hospital (KSSH) for medical attention by the ministry.
The residents thereafter, teamed up with government officials to trace Mary, and she was eventually handed over to the police for investigation.
But since then, there had been series of news making the round that the abandoned baby had allegedly disappeared from the hospital. It was further alleged that the baby was being sexually molested.
There was also a recent allegation that one Blessing James, 25, older sister of the abandoned baby and daughter of Mary, was sexually harassed by the Director of Child Welfare at the ministry, Mr. Omoyele Fatoye.
However, speaking to our reporter on Monday in Lokoja on the development, the Commissioner, refuted the allegation of disappearance and molestation of the baby, saying the abandoned baby was safe and sound under the ministry’s custody.
According to Amupitan, the baby is safe, hale and healthy in our opharnage and was neither sexually molested nor disappeared.
“It is our responsibility to take care of such abandoned baby, and to protect any child from age 0 to 18 years. So, we have the mandate as ministry to pick abandoned babies, take care of them and if need be, give them out for adoption.
She noted that when the baby was found at the refuse dump few weeks ago, maggots were being removed from the baby’s ears and umbilical cord, and she was immediately carried to the State Specialist Hospital (KSSH) for medical attention.
She added that the baby was given optimum medical attention while in the hospital and few days later, the baby was discharged and handed over to the ministry, assuring that the baby was safe in the orphanage under their care’’.
Meanwhile, Dr Ahmed Attah, the Chief Medical Director (CMD), Kogi State Specialist Hospital (KSSH), had also refuted the allegation of the baby’s disappearance from the hospital, saying it was absolutely false.
Speaking further on the incidence, the commissioner said that there had been some arguments and misunderstanding between the Police Officer (DPO) in charge of ‘D’ Division, Lokoja, Mr. Ishaya Pam, and the director, on whether or not to hand over the baby back to the acclaimed mother, Mary James.
She stressed that the ministry was more concerned about the safety of the abandoned baby and not the purported mother or anyone else.
‘’We are not even sure if the woman is truly the biological mother of the abandoned baby; if not, how on earth would a woman with blood flowing in her vein abandoned her own baby in the dustbin?
‘’In addition, so many people also delivered babies during that partiular time, and anybody could come up tomorrow to claim the baby.
‘’So, we told the DPO to exercise patience on the issue of returning the abandoned baby to the purported mother without following the normal process.
‘’We don’t have issues with anybody except the heartless purported mother, who abandoned an innocent baby in the dustbin inside cold weather and endangering her life.
‘’We as ministry cannot handover the baby back to the woman just like that because she might go and do something worst than that to the baby,’’ she said.
The commissioner added that it must be medically confirmed that the purported mother was the true owner of the baby, and also confirm if she was mentally and emotionally fit to take care of the baby.