A British woman has been charged with stealing a baby in Kenya amid the so-called “miracle babies” controversy, embassy officials said today.
Miriam Nyeko appeared with four others in a Nairobi court on Monday as police investigate a suspected baby smuggling ring between there and Britain.
The accused are said to be linked to the controversial ministries of London-based preacher, self-styled Archbishop Gilbert Deya, who claims women can be made pregnant by God.
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Church leaders and medical experts fear the “miracle babies” are simply victims of child trafficking, possibly stolen from poor Kenyan women.
Nyeko, who is of Ugandan descent, is among three people charged with stealing an unnamed child from the Pumwani Maternity Hospital in Nairobi in February this year, the East African Standard said.
Reports said one of her co-accused, Rose Kiserem, is also British but the embassy spokesman said he had seen no evidence to suggest that.
Nyeko claims to have given birth to a boy called Daniel in Kenya last month thanks to Archbishop Deya’s help.
Her husband Charles, a product designer, told earlier this month how it was a “miracle from God”.
Kenyan authorities are insisting on DNA tests and the British embassy has refused to grant the boy a passport until they are carried out.
Mr Nyeko said at the time: “We don’t understand how it has happened, we are just grateful that it has.
“Miriam is in a terrible state with no idea what will happen and we don’t know what to think.”
Both the Church of England and the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology have called on the Metropolitan Police to investigate claims involving members of The Gilbert Deya Ministries – one of Britain’s fastest growing Evangelical churches.
The church was registered as a charity in Britain in 1996 and has some 36,000 members in Britain as well as branches in Europe, Africa and Asia.
Archbishop Deya pronounces his women worshippers as pregnant “by Jesus”.
They are said to travel to Kenya where they apparently give birth to babies within days in backstreet clinics in the slums of Nairobi.
Concerns over their authenticity have been further fuelled by the fact the children’s DNA, where tested, does not match their supposed mothers.
The Charity Commission launched an investigation in 2000 after worried relatives of church-goers complained of their increasingly bizarre behaviour.
Archbishop Deya was the subject of investigation by child protection bodies after allegedly conducting exorcisms on young children.
Also appearing in court on Monday were Kenyans Michael and Eddah Odera, who claim to be the parents of 11 children, the East African Standard said.
The Oderas feature on Archbishop Deya’s website and describe the religious leader as “to whom God gave a vision of a Ministry of miracles”.
The couple are accused of stealing a child in Kenya in January 2000.
All five defendants appeared before the chief magistrate’s court on Monday and are due back in court on November 3 and 4, reports said.