Police yesterday took away the 11 “miracle babies” and detained an elderly couple claiming to be their parents, as investigations into archbishop Gilbert Deya’s ministry began in Kenya.
Blood samples of the children and couple — Michael Odera and Eddah Odera — were taken for DNA tests to establish whether they are related biologically.
The woman was also taken for a pregnancy test after she said she was expecting yet another baby.
Archbishop Deya, whose ministry the couple is crediting for the alleged miracle births, is currently facing child trafficking charges in a UK court.
Investigations were focused on the Oderas after they invited the media to their Nairobi home on Sunday and displayed the 11 children they claim were born months apart. They claim the elderly Eddah — who is well into menopause — conceived through a miracle and gave birth to a total of 13 children within three years. Two of the children died, they told journalists.
The claims prompted fears of child exploitation and baby trafficking.
Both the Church of England and the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology have called on the Metropolitan Police to investigate the claims involving members of one of Britain’s fastest growing Evangelical churches – The Gilbert Deya Ministries.
Its head, the self-styled Archbishop Gilbert Deya, pronounces the women worshippers as pregnant “by Jesus”, according to the BBC Radio 4’s Face the Facts investigation.
– Archbishop’s ‘Miracle Babies’ Raise Child Trafficking Fears
Yesterday, police sources said once the DNA results are out, they would try to establish the source of the children.
Police are also looking into why two British citizens would come to give birth in a back street clinic in Nairobi when they had access to better health services in their country.
“We are also wondering why women claiming to have given birth to “miracle babies” have to come all the way to some back street clinic in Kenya to give birth,” said the police source.
All the children are said to have been born at a clinic in Huruma. However, a clinical officer at the clinic could produce only birth records for one child.
Yesterday, two foreign women, each carrying a baby stormed the clinic, demanding to be told why the Government was investigating the Oderas.
The women, who were accompanied by Archbishop Deya’s wife Mary, claimed to have given birth less than three months ago even as they added that they were pregnant and would deliver anytime.
As debate over the children raged on yesterday, the Kenya Medical Association vice-chairman, Dr Rahman Khan, dismissed as nonsense the couple’s account of miracle births.
“They should be investigated. There is no sense in it (story) … that babies are born in five months,” Dr Khan said on telephone.
Later in the evening, Mrs Deya brought to the East African Standard newsroom a video-tape showing the “live birth” of one of the babies.
The tape shows Eddah Odera walking into the Mama Lucy medical centre — up to the point she gives birth.
The journalist who watched the tape positively identified David Ochieng, the midwife at the Mama Lucy centre, who fielded questions from reporters on Monday evening.
“It is for you the media and the rest of the doubting Thomas to tell the world whose parents these children are,” said Mrs Deya, who said it was her, not her husband, who was behind the miracle pregnancies.
“My husband has the gift for healing but it is me who has the gift for helping barren women deliver,” she said.
The video’s authenticity is yet to be verified by experts.
And a source told the East African Standard last night that the Oderas had engaged the services of a city lawyer who would go to court this morning seeking their release and protesting at the police action.
In the morning, officers from the Criminal Investigations Department raided the home of the couple in Nairobi’s Komarock estate and drove the “family” to the Nairobi provincial police headquarters clinic, where blood samples were taken.
Led by a Chief Inspector identified only as Rosemary, they entered the compound and asked Mrs Odera to accompany them with the babies to police headquarters.
The children, who were being dressed by their nannies, were shocked to see strangers enter their bedroom, which is downstairs in the maisonette.
Policewomen joined the nannies in dressing up the children as their mother sat speechless in the sitting room.
“Check if there is enough milk in the bottles for the youngest babies. The children need sweaters to keep them warm,” one of the policewomen said.
The children, aged between five years and two months, were excited to see their father walk into the compound a few minutes later, asking him where they were being taken.
“Baba, baba, polisi wamekuja kwetu leo. (Dad, police have come to our house today),” they told him.
Outside the gate, neighbours gathered to get a glimpse of the babies as unarmed police officers sat in a mini-bus waiting for instructions from their team leader.
Those interviewed said they were surprised to see so many children coming from the house.
“I have never seen the children playing outside with others in this court. They are always locked inside their house,” said one.
Another neighbour said she had been hearing babies crying or playing in the compound, but had never seen them.
“We have never known that Mrs Odera has children even though she passes near our house when going out of the court or coming in,” she said.
Inside the house, Odera demanded to be told by the detectives where his babies were being taken.
“If it is the Government that wants to see my children, there is no problem with that,” he told his 56 year-old-wife.
At Nairobi area, the head of CID forensic science, Dr John Maina, who led a team of experts in getting the samples, ushered the babies into the clinic. Getting samples for the DNA tests took experts more than two hours as the babies screamed with pain.