From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
There is a twist in the ongoing investigation by the police to unravel the mystery behind the alleged mutilation of the body of a 12-day-old baby boy at a private hospital in Asaba, the capital of Delta State.
The boy, who was brought to the said hospital after birth, was confirmed dead by medical doctors about 10 days in an incubator.
But when the body was released, the boy’s father, Mr. John Anefon Promise, raised the alarm that the dead baby’s eyes, one ear and the entire face were allegedly removed.
Although arrests were made and the case charged to court, commissioner of police in the state, Ari Mohammed Ali, said he has called for a withdrawal of the case for re-investigation.
Ali said: “The case is still under investigation because I have to recall that case for thorough investigation so that we get it correctly done in order to ensure that no stone is left unturned in trying to unravel the mystery behind the mutilation of the body of that baby.
“Though it was charged to court already but because of one reason or the other, I ordered that the case be withdrawn so that it can be re-investigated.
“As I speak to you, that case is undergoing investigation, and at the end of the day, all the suspects or anybody that is fingered to have a hand in the mutilation of that baby will no doubt be charged to court.”
The CP’s action might not be unconnected to a petition by a human rights activist, Victor Ojei, who accused the police of hurriedly charging the matter to court without thorough investigation.
The baby, it was learnt, was delivered at a hospital in Issele-Uku from where the parents were referred to Asaba Specialist Hospital as he was having jaundice.
But for unavailability of bed space at the state government-owned hospital, the infant was taken to the private hospital in Asaba on September 29 and died on October 9.
Narrating their ordeal, the bereaved couple, Mr. and Mrs. John Anefon Promise, said the late baby was their first child, adding that he was delivered through a Caesarian Section (CS). The couple who got married less than two years ago, accused the police of allegedly turning the table against them.
“That was my first experience of child birth and it was through CS. And before the CS, I went through hard labour. The injury has not healed,” Ebele, mother of the child said.
The father, John, a native of Akwa-Ibom State, said when the baby was admitted at the hospital, they were able to provide all the requirement, including donating blood and its transfusion to the sick infant.
John said when the baby died, he did not suspect anything, adding that he was very tired as he was shuttling between that hospital and another one where his wife was also on admission after the delivery through CS.
“I called the nurse who was on duty and the nurse said she does not know anything, and I asked if I could take the corpse for burial. She called another nurse and they package it for me. When I called my people, they asked me to return the corpse,” he recalled.
According to him, the matter was reported to the police who swiftly arrested the nurse on duty at the hospital, adding however that the investigating police officer that was initially assigned the case was dropped for another.
He alleged that evidence was later tampered with by the hospital management, as they dismantled the CCTV camera at the hospital during police investigation.
“Going back to the hospital to check things, the police discovered two guys dismantling the CCTV camera; we met them there, the police arrested them with the equipment.
“The first IPO who vowed to get to the root of the matter was removed, and the recovered camera was taken from him. They took the case to another IPO.
“Since then, the case has been changing. They even forced me to bring my wife who was still in pain. The police said they were suspecting me, my wife and mother in-law who stayed at the hospital with the baby.
“Before you knew it, they charged us to court – me, the hospital management and the nurse. The day they charged us to court, there was no prior information. We just arrived and they said we are going to court. But when I got there, the hospital management was not there, it was only the nurse and I. They just asked one or two question and said we should be on remand till December 12 or they bail me with N400,000 and a surety and a certain law they quoted.
“We have been going to the station since then. The CP said he was not aware of the court arrangement,” he stated.
His wife, Ebele, said they were yearning for justice to prevail in the matter. She accused the police of compromise, and allegedly turning the table against the complainant.
“Anything that can be done for us to get justice will be appreciated. The way the police were handling the case was not good at all. They are trying to turn the case against us. They are beating round the bush when they know the truth.
“The police are now speaking for the doctor. They said the doctor said the camera stopped working two months ago. If the camera stopped working for two months in that big hospital, why did they not bother to fix it?
“And why is it that it was the day they were coming to see the CCTV that they decided to repair it? They went and removed the hard disc that recorded something. I am very sure that it recorded something, that was why they went to remove it quickly, and tampered with it.
“When they caught the people tampering with the camera, they did even tell us, we didn’t know that they freed them just like that.
“The question is, why is it that you did not repair it, and why was it that it was when they were coming that you decided to go and fix it when you knew the place was under investigation? You didn’t go with police for the repair, you only secretly did it.
“I am angry because I am in pains. I have never see a situation whereby somebody report a matter for help, you are now turning it against the person because we don’t have money. We want justice to prevail,” she said.