The doors of the clinic at the heart of the Kenyan “miracle baby” scheme were locked and bolted yesterday after Nairobi police closed the centre.
Police officers shut down the ramshackle Mama Lucy maternity centre in an attempt to stop an alleged child trafficking racket led by a British-based evangelist.
Twenty children have been taken into protective custody and six people, including two British women, charged with abducting babies. Among the accused is Gilbert Deya, a former Kenyan security guard who now styles himself archbishop and leads the Gilbert Deya Ministries in London, claiming to have 34,000 followers.
Mr Deya says the power of his prayers causes infertile women to deliver “miracle babies”.
One of these women was Eddah Odera, 56, who approached the Deya ministry in Nairobi and, she claims, gave birth to 11 babies in the Mama Lucy clinic over a five-year period.
Mrs Odera allegedly conceived the first child when she met Mr Deya’s British wife, Mary, in Nairobi in 1999. The preacher’s wife laid her hands on Mrs Odera’s stomach and declared: “Woman, there is a child in your womb.”
Apparently Mrs Odera then repeatedly became pregnant, even though she had passed her menopause and no longer had intercourse with her husband.
But police raided her Nairobi home last month and took all 11 children into care. DNA tests showed that none were related to their alleged parents, and Mr and Mrs Odera were charged with abduction.
Police believe the babies were stolen either from the Mama Lucy clinic or from Punwani Maternity Hospital, the largest in Nairobi. They raided Mr Deya’s home in Nairobi and took nine children into protective custody.
The Deyas claimed that all were theirs, but DNA tests showed that at least six of the children were not related to them. Mrs Deya has been charged with abducting a baby from Pumwani hospital in February. Also charged was another British woman, Miriam Nyeko, 40.
Fifty parents have claimed the children in protective custody. Kenyan police have issued an arrest warrant for Mr Deya and applied for his extradition from Britain.