Reports in British media suggest that the issue of Mr Gilbert Deya’s “miracle babies” is not as simple as is made out.
Following Attorney-General Amos Wako’s decision to seek Mr Deya’s arrest in London – expected to be issued through an international warrant via Interpol – The Times, in particular, acknowledges that there are several unusual aspects to the affair.
According to the newspaper, what puzzles British medical experts most is that several of Mr Deya’s congregation, who have become pregnant, have produced negative pregnancy tests while others have have even had negative ultra-sound tests.
The issue of whether or not several women who claimed to have had “miracle” babies really did become pregnant is also the subject of intense debate.
British medical experts said people can genuinely fool themselves into believing they are pregnant when they are not.
“People can produce quite extreme physical symptoms out of suggestion and auto-suggestion,” said Dr Rosalind Bramwell of Liverpool University. “A psychosomatic loop can develop where a person is told they are pregnant, develop some mild symptoms, then believe it more, develop more symptoms, and so on.
“The really tragic thing is that when a baby is produced and the woman is told it is hers, she will be as attached to that child as any biological mother. To have it taken away then would be very traumatic.”
The Times said the Gilbert Deya Ministries has, in its defence, shown one video of a “miracle” birth. But experts said the evidence was not conclusive.
Even though it shows a newly-born child with its umbilical cord still attached, it does not show the actual moment of birth.
The ministry, which is the subject of investigations by the police and immigration officials here, is reported to be a very wealthy church. Recent accounts for 2002/03 show an income of nearly Sh126 million (£900,000) even though it has only 36,000 members.
Its headquarters is in a £1 million converted former factory in Peckham, south London, but it also has branches in Kenya, Guyana, Canada, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and other parts of Britain.
Mr Deya, the leader, was made an archbishop by Dr Charles Hardin, the head of the Evangelical Churches of America in 1993.
The bishop remains convinced that the births were an act of God. He said: “I cannot understand what has been happening – it is beyond the comprehension of man because what we are seeing are miracles.
“The Church of England and the Kenyan Government are trying to destroy my family but before they got into power, 10 Kenyan politicians came running to me asking if they would win the election. I said: ‘Yes, on condition that you look after the poor people.’
“According to these same men, I am a child trafficker. That is ridiculous and horrible. They are saying I am transferring babies from Kenya to the UK. That is a serious allegation because it is criminal – and a criminal cannot lead 36,000 people.”
He dismissed the DNA evidence concerning the babies’ parentage, saying the results were fixed.
His lawyer, Mr Aamer Anwar, told the Guardian newspaper that Mr Deya had denied the allegations but would not go voluntarily to Kenya to defend the charges because “he does not believe he would receive a fair trial.”
The newspaper also reports that the Gilbert Deya Ministries have previously been investigated by the Charity Commissioners in Britain over child protection issues and the use of exorcisms on children. The commissioners are also said to be investigating the church’s funding.
The Church of England is calling for an investigation into the church’s activities.