My baby was not given a name before my sister sold her

2010-03-20
THE PUNCH Newspaper-Sesan Olufowobi


Three sisters, Gladys Uju, Ezinne Paul Theresa and Onuoha Chinonye, born of the same parents are in the news over the sale of a baby belonging to one of them. The sisters presented their different views to Sesan Olufowobi.







Uju



Can you tell me briefly about yourself?



My name is Gladys Uju. Ezine and Chinonye are my sisters from the same father and mother. We are from Mbano in Imo State and I am 28 years old.



Did you have any education?



Yes, I finished my secondary school at City College,Sabo Yaba in Lagos here. Then I started doing business.



What type of business?



I was selling GSM recharge cards in Ikeja. I also lived in Ikeja. It was through my recharge card business that I met the man that impregnated me.



What is his name and did you actually date him or it was just one off affair?



We had a relationship. His name is Soga. When I got pregnant, I told him about it. He suddenly changed and before I knew it, his phone could no longer be reached. And when I went to his place, I was told he was no longer living there.



What did you do?



I was confused. I did not know what to do. But my people got to know about it and it became a big issue.



How?



They said that I got pregnant out of wedlock; that I had disgraced the name of the family. Their condemnation added to my confusion, but nothing happened until we went to the village.



Your parents called you?



No, we went to the village to bury one of our brothers who died. After the burial, there was an emergency family meeting where I was roundly condemned for my behaviour and I was told that I had proven that I could not live alone without misbehaving, so I would have to live with one of my sisters, Ezine. They collected my phone from me and I was told that if there was any need to contact me, they would do so through my sister.



But you said you are 28. You don’t have to take it.



I told you that I was confused, especially because the person that was responsible for the pregnancy could not be found.



So you went to live with Ezine?



Yes, I was with her until I was delivered of a baby girl on December 12, 2009. But my sister told me not to tell anyone and if any of our family members called to ask me, I should say that the baby died during childbirth.



And you agreed with her?



I just said okay, but I was scared. We were still living in the house and the baby was still sucking breast. She would even say that I should not give her breast and I would tell her that the breast was paining me and that I could not starve the baby.



What name did you give the baby?



She did not have any name before she was taken away from me (she breaks into tears). One day, my sister came to our room. She lives in a two-bedroom flat at Ipaye, Iyana Oba (Lagos). My baby and I were staying in one room. So she came one day and said that the family had agreed that since the baby was an embarrassment to them, she should be put up for adoption. I was alarmed but I did not show it. I just nodded my head.



And you wished that would not happen?



Immediately she left, I managed to get one of her phone lines and called an elder brother of ours. I told him what Ezine told me;. He said I should not bother myself about anything she said, that he would come the following day to sort things out. I waited endlessly but my brother did not come. Then one day, January 5, Ezine just took the baby as if she wanted to play with her. She went out and later came back without the baby.



You did not know that she was taking the baby away from you?



No, she took her (weeps). She just took her. She came back and told me that the baby had been given to a motherless babies’ home. She refused to give me further information in spite of my protest. I cried and begged…nothing.



You mean you did nothing?



I managed to make another call to our brother, who promised again to come the following day to sort it out. I waited for weeks and when he did not come, I sneaked out of the house and went to Ikotun, to Chinonye who is senior to all of us, and I told her what happened.



Then?



She said the family did not discuss anything like adoption. She said that she did not even know that I had given birth. She then advised that we should take the case to the police who would help me get my baby back. So we went to Ikotun police division.











Ezinne



Did the family actually decide to give up the baby for adoption?



I think it would be better if I start from the beginning. It was at the village I actually got to know about her pregnancy. Everybody was scandalised and it was decided that she should live with our eldest sister, Chinonye. She refused. Every other person also refused. Later, I was told that the family had decided that I should take the girl to live with me. I could not refuse the family’s decision, so I agreed.



So you took her to Lagos to start living with you.



Yes, and it was at this period that I noticed that she was using some drugs to remove the pregnancy. I called a brother of ours, who said I must take care of her and not allowed her to harm herself. The brother later called to tell me that we had to take decision on what to do with Ezine’s child after she delivered. He said the best bet was that the baby must be taken away.



Did you tell Uju what your brother said?



I did not tell her about it until she had given birth to the baby. I told her about the family decision and she agreed whole heartedly.



You said Uju agreed, but she did not look like somebody that agreed to that...



She agreed. In fact she started disturbing me to take the baby away. So I told some people that I know that I had a sister who gave birth but did not want the baby and she wanted to give the baby to someone who needed a child.



And you succeeded in doing that?



Yes. One of the people I told called me in January and asked if that thing was still available. I said yes and she told me that there was somebody who wanted the baby. A few days later, I gave the baby to the woman.



Just like that?



It was the first and only time that I would be meeting the woman. But I gathered that she was a Ghanaian and she gave me N30, 000. The link woman later told me that she (Ghanaian) also gave her N20, 000. She also told me that the woman had been looking for a baby for 25 years.



Was there any adoption paper?



No.



And did you give the money you collected to Uju?



No, I just felt that the earlier everybody forgot about the whole issue, the better.



The police said your child, Jennifer, was not your own baby?



I have been taking care of that girl for seven years.



Did you give birth to her?



I smile. Do you know why? It has become a curse in our family that we the women would get married and we would not be able to have a child. I couldn’t have a child, so I adopted Jennifer.



Was it done legally?



I went to a Reverend Sisters’ convent to get baby I could adopt. I was given an appointment. I went there several times and one day, one of the sisters took pity on me and directed me to the General Hospital, Onitsha. A nurse later helped me to get this baby.



Did you give the nurse anything?



Yes, I gave her N60, 000, and I saw her giving N10, 000 to somebody.



Did she also give you documents to support the adoption?



I did that in Lagos. I went to Ikotun Local Government office. I got a birth certificate and adoption papers.



You got a baby in Onitsha and you got the adoption papers in Lagos. Didn’t you think that something was wrong?



I thought I was adopting a baby then, but now that they are telling me what papers I should have had. I think it is illegal.











Chinonye



You refused to let Uju live with you when she was pregnant...



That is not true. She used to live with me before all these problems. She misbehaved and I scolded her. She left my place in anger. That was how she came to live in Ikeja. So when we got to the village for my brother’s burial and because of what had happened between us in the past, Uju was sent to Ezine.



Did you know about the pregnancy earlier?



Before we went to the village, she came to me and said she was not feeling well. I took her to the hospital and it was there that the doctor said she was pregnant. When the man who was responsible for the pregnancy disappeared, I told our brother.



So after the village meeting, did you make effort to see her?



I called Ezine, but I did not go to her house. Uju and I were staying with her and her husband before I got my own apartment. She accused me of wanting to take her husband and it got so bad that we had to leave. Since then, we have not been in good terms. So I called her to ask after my sister. I did not go to the house.



How did you get to know that Uju’s child had been sold?



It was one Monday that she came to my place and I saw that her stomach had gone down. I congratulated her, but she shunned me and asked me why I was congratulating her when we had taken the baby away. I told her that I did not even know she had given birth. She broke into tears and told me her story.



So you were not part of the decision to take the baby away?



The family did not decide on that. It was Ezine’s decision. I don’t know anything about it. That was why we decided to go to the police.

 

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