A UK-based African preacher who claimed to create “miracle babies” for infertile couples by the power of prayer faces extradition to Kenya after being accused of kidnapping.
Gilbert Deya, a self-styled archbishop with large Pentecostal churches in Birmingham, Nottingham, Liverpool, and Manchester, is wanted by the Kenyan government which believes he stole five children aged between May 1999 and December 2004 and tried to pass them off as his own.
Deya, 55, and his wife Mary, who together ran the Gilbert Deya Ministries, are accused of kidnapping the children, Miriam, Naomi, Elijah, Ruth and Joshua, aged between one and four. The couple came to Britain in 2004.
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Magistrates in the City of Westminster heard at the start of a two-day extradition hearing today that the serious crimes unit in Kenya started investigating the couple after media reports of the miracle birth appeared.
Adina Ezekiel, for the Kenyan government, said: “There was a report in the East Africa Standard about miracle babies and the head of the serious crime unit directed that two officers visit the home of the couple who are said to have delivered thirteen miracle babies following prayers given by Mrs Deya.
“The officers found 11 young children at the couple’s house. The investigation continued and on 19 August 2004 Mrs Deya’s home address was searched and 10 young children were found between the ages of two and 14.
“Mrs Deya said it was true she had special powers of prayer so barren women conceived after they passed their menopause.
“She invited the officers into the house to see the wonders of the prayers and she was arrested on suspicion of harbouring stolen children.”
Ms Ezekiel said in a later police interview Mr Deya stated “he was the father of the five children in question and their mother was his wife Mary Deya and they all came from his wife’s womb.”
However a medical examination showed Mrs Deya had not given birth recently, the court heard. Ms Ezekiel also said there was evidence of forged birth certificates. Deya, a failed asylum seeker, was arrested at an immigration centre in south east London.
The minister lives at his church in Peckham preaching for up to four hours at a time to followers during weekend church meetings. He also has a large charity in his name and is said to enjoy a luxury lifestyle. Wearing a pin-striped suit, shirt and tie he spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth.
The court heard that Mr Deya is also accused of conspiracy to murder a police officer in Kenya. But his lawyer, Ben Cooper, claimed his client was the victim of a political vendetta.
Mr Cooper told the court the circumstances surrounding his client’s extradition were highly suspect and asked why the Kenyan authorities chose not to use the conspiracy to commit murder charge as the basis for the extradition request.
He also said his client was a target of the Kenyan government. “The government has made clear its intention to punish Mr Deya for his political opinion and outspoken criticism of the government,” Mr Cooper told the court.
The Kenyam police investigation centres around the disappearance of babies from Nairobi’s Pumwani Maternity Hospital and involves suspects in Britain, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya.