Home secretary Jacqui Smith has ordered the extradition of a controversial Kenyan pastor who claims he has the power to give infertile couples ‘miracle babies’, The Observer has learnt.
Gilbert Deya, the self-styled archbishop of Gilbert Deya Ministries, who is wanted in Kenya on child-stealing charges, has pledged to take his case as far as the European Court of Human Rights to get the decision overturned. It is understood that his lawyers, who claim he is the victim of a vendetta by senior politicians in Kenya, will seek to use the current post-election turmoil in the East African country to strengthen his case.
Deya, 55, who runs his world-wide ministry from Peckham, south London, attracting 34,000 followers in the UK alone, is wanted in Kenya on five charges of abducting children aged between 22 months and four and a half years. His wife, Mary Deya, received a two-year sentence in Nairobi after being convicted of child-stealing offences in May.
Deya said that before he came to Britain in 1996 he had publicly condemned the then Kenyan President, Daniel arap Moi. ‘Speak against him and you will be killed,’ he said. ‘If I return, I will not receive a fair trial and I will be punished. At best, if convicted, I will receive 35 years in prison – that’s the rest of my life – for bearing my own children. I will fight all the way.’
The Kenyan charges follow Deya’s claims that he has the power to give ‘miracle babies’ to infertile and post-menopausal women members of his evangelical church. In all, 22 such births are said to have occurred in his church.
One case involved an African couple in Haringey, north London. The woman, who was not pregnant, went to Kenya and returned with a baby boy that she insisted had been born through divine intervention. DNA testing showed he could not be their son, and the boy, now three and the subject of a long child custody case, has since been adopted. It emerged he was brought into Britain using fake birth registry documents.
Police raided Deya’s home in Nairobi after a Kenyan press report of a couple who claimed to have delivered 13 ‘miracle babies’. Officers found 11 young children at the house, aged between two months and five years, with the couple claiming to be the biological parents of all of them.
During a search of Deya’s home three days later, 10 children were found, aged between two weeks and 14 years. These included five listed in the charges against him and named as Elijah, Miriam, Ruth, Naomi and Joshua. He claims his wife, 57, gave birth to all five, but DNA tests proved negative and forged birth certificates were found in his home.
Kenyan officials say vulnerable church members thought that Deya could make them pregnant through prayer. They were advised to go to Kenya, where it is alleged that his wife and others told them they were in labour. They were taken to illegal clinics, where they underwent what they believed to be childbirth.
Deya, a former stonemason who has posted pictures of himself meeting the Queen and Prince Philip on his website, has established 14 churches in Britain, along with African and Asian branches. Church members are expected to make weekly contributions. One 2004 advertisement said: ‘God has blessed us with miracle babies that the world has never seen anything like before. Your donation is very useful to your miracle. Please send your donation and expect your miracle. Ten pounds, a hundred pounds, a thousand pounds – make cheques payable to Gilbert Deya Ministry.’
The Home Secretary, who had the final decision on whether he would be extradited, upheld an extradition order made in November by District Judge Caroline Tubbs at London’s City of Westminster magistrates court. The court heard then more than 50 people had come forward for DNA testing by the Kenyan authorities in relation to the recovered children, but it was still not known where they had come from. Kenyan police say their investigation centres on the disappearance of babies from Nairobi’s Pumwani maternity hospital, and involves suspects in Britain, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya.