Five appear before Kenya court over ‘miracle babies’ as police investigate claims that church is a front for smuggling infants
Mary Deya appeared in court in Nairobi with another British woman and three other people who claim to have had babies through the power of prayers directed by Gilbert Deya, the charismatic leader of Gilbert Deya Ministries, a rapidly-expanding church based in south London.
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Kenyan police yesterday confirmed they are investigating allegations that the self-styled archbishop’s church, which boasts 36,000 members in Britain, is a front for a child smuggling ring that steals the “miracle babies” from impoverished mothers in the backstreets of the Kenyan capital.
Jaspher Ombati, a police spokesman, said that if Mr Deya was found to be working with his wife they would follow “normal extradition procedures” to bring the pastor to Kenya. “We are casting our net wide,” he said. “We want to come to the bottom of this issue of miracle babies.”
According to the police, women travel from Britain to Africa and appear to give birth to babies in slum clinics in Nairobi. Concerns have been raised over the authenticity of the “miracles” by the fact that where the children’s DNA as tested by the Kenyan authorities, it did not match their mothers’.
In a statement, Mr Deya, whose church is a registered charity and boasts a new £1m headquarters in Peckham, yesterday insisted he and his family were innocent and the allegation that they had “stolen our baby Naomi” was untrue.
“Naomi was a twin with the late Jeremiah and we have proof of their birth in the video camera,” he said. “The allegation is a lie, an assassination attempt and it has been fabricated to destroy the name of my ministry, which is well-known and respected worldwide.”
Mr Deya claims to use prayer to exorcise demons from women in his ministry who are unable to conceive naturally. According to the pastor, British doctors in his congregation have confirmed the miracle births are genuine. “The miracles which God has performed through me are of God, they are beyond human understanding and no man can explain them except God,” he said.
A second British woman, Miriam Nyeko, and Rose Kiserem, a Kenyan, also appeared in the chief magistrate’s court in Kenya with Mrs Deya. All three are charged with stealing a child from the Pumwani maternity hospital, Nairobi, in February this year.
Mrs Nyeko said she gave birth to her third child, Daniel, in Kenya last month with help from Mr Deya. Her husband, Charles, said the birth was a “miracle from God”.
Mr Deya said he had presented pictures and a videotape of Mrs Nyeko’s birth to the British embassy in Nairobi with an application for travel documents so the couple could bring their “miracle baby” back to Britain. But the embassy has refused to grant the boy a passport until DNA tests, also demanded by the Kenyan authorities, are carried out.
Also appearing in court were Michael and Eddah Odera, a Kenyan couple who describe how they gave birth to “miracle babies” on Mr Deya’s website. Charged with abducting a teenage boy from a farm 90 miles from Nairobi in 2000, the couple were found to have 11 children aged between five months and 12 years living in their home in Kenya.
Mr Odera said his 56-year-old wife gave birth to the first of their miracle babies after Mrs Deya prophesied a birth and laid her hand on his wife’s stomach. They named their son Daniel Gilbert, after Mr Deya. According to the pastor, none of Mrs Odera’s subsequent pregnancies have been detected by modern technology.
The Church of England and the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology have called for an investigation into the claims involving members of the church, one of Britain’s fastest growing evangelical groups, which has branches in Europe, Africa and Asia.
A spokeswoman for Scotland Yard said: “We received an allegation in October of last year. The matter was referred to the immigration services for further investigation and we are assisting them with their inquiries.”
A spokesman for the Home Office said he could not comment on any immigration service investigation for fear of jeopardising its work.
Mrs Deya, Mrs Nyeko, Mrs Kiserem and Mr and Mrs Odera are due to reappear in court on November 3 and 4.