‘They say I steal babies … but god has given me the power to create them’
Sunday Herald, UK, Sep. 26, 2004
Investigation: Gilbert Deya is in Scotland fighting extradition charges. He stands accused of masterminding an international child-smuggling ring. Today he breaks his silence, but can we believe him?
Archbishop Gilbert Deya is either a bona fide miracle worker who through the power of God can make infertile women spontaneously pregnant, or else he is a sinister and cunning charlatan who is up to his neck in a baby-trafficking racket which runs stolen children between Kenya and the UK.
Whatever the truth about this man, he – at least – is in no doubt that he is doing the Lord’s work. While sitting in the Glasgow offices of his solicitor, he explains in the most forthright manner why he shouldn’t be extradited from Scotland to Nairobi to face charges which could see him spending a very, very long time behind bars.
This strange case began when a 56-year-old woman in Kenya, Eddah Odera, began to give birth to babies at roughly four-month intervals from the year 2000. “She started giving birth like a chicken or a pussycat,” Deya says.
Odera had some 11 “miracle babies” before the police became involved. Deya claims the power of his prayer “created” these children. The only problem with his story is that DNA tests on the youngsters showed that none of them are a match for Odera.
Deya’s wife, Mary, was later arrested in Kenya and nine of the couples’ 13 children were taken into care. Deya’s wife said some of her children were also miracle babies. Of these children seized, police say DNA tests show only one belonged to Deya. Five people, including Deya’s wife and the Oderas, have since been arrested.
When the raids took place, Deya was in London at the brand new £1 million HQ of his church, known simple as Gilbert Deya Ministries. He is now basing himself in Scotland to fight the extradition case. A number of African women in the UK who belong to Deya’s church also say that they gave birth to miracle babies when they travelled from Britain to the same hospital in Kenya where Odera and Deya’s wife had their children.
While the saga sounds absurd, it is also heartbreaking. Parents in Kenya have now come forward to say that some of the miracle babies belong to them. Deya and others from his church have been accused of taking children from hospitals and then trafficking them around the world after bribing hospital staff to tell the real parents that their children had died. Kenyan police believe they have uncovered an international child- smuggling ring of massive proportions.
The investigation in Kenya – which centres on two hospitals, the Mama Lucy Maternity Hospital and Pumwani Hospital – is backed by The Church of England and the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Scotland Yard is also involved. The UK bank accounts of Deya’s charity have also been frozen by the Charities Commission as part of a full inquiry.
According to Deya, though, this is all a plot by the Kenyan authorities to destroy him because of his success. Speaking at the offices of Beltrami Berlow solicitors in Glasgow, the archbishop claims the church he founded is the fastest growing ministry in the UK, with some 34,000 members. His website shows him standing by a luxury plane which has his name stencilled ostentatiously on its side. There have been claims that members of his church are asked to hand over a tithe worth 10% of their income. He boasts that during one meeting in Kenya he “couldn’t see the end of the crowd” and that he can “pull big crowds in South America, India – anywhere”.
He says that he was the “prayer-partner” of Kenya’s former president Daniel Arap Moi many times and that the new government hates him for this reason. “I am very well known in Kenya. I am not some small figure there, I am a man who has a high reputation,” he says.
Deya claims he can’t walk the streets of downtown Nairobi without being mobbed. “I have been on TV every day since 1994 preaching the good news,” he adds.
According to Deya, a policeman who investigated the child-trafficking case was shot by “them” because he could find no evidence against Deya. When asked for the officer’s name, he says he will provide it but never does. When he’s asked who “they” are, he says: “The government and the Catholics. The current government is corrupt and evil.”
God, however, says Deya, “is using me to perform miracles – to heal cancer. I cast demons out of people the way Jesus did in the bible”. In 2001, the miracle of the immaculately conceived children arrived on British shores when some members of Deya’s London congregation began to fall pregnant like the women back in Kenya.
“I was praying for women who were not having babies,” he says. To prove the power of his prayer, Deya adds: “When I raise my hand thousands are influenced. If I say ‘receive Jesus’, people fall down. When I say ‘in the name of Jesus, demon come out’, they scream and they manifest the bad spirit.”
An African woman in Deya’s congregation, who he will only refer to as Edith, began to fall pregnant in quick succession just as Odera had done back in Kenya. “She got pregnant, her belly got a protrusion and she felt her baby in her womb,” he says. “She went to the doctor and the doctor did a scan and said you are not pregnant.”
Edith then travelled to Kenya, Deya says, as doctors did not believe her and she gave birth in the same hospital as Deya’s wife and Odera. In all, Deya says, she gave birth to three miracle babies in Kenya. She is now expecting a fourth. All three children were born full-size and within just 12 months.
Deya says that the woman will give birth to her fourth child in the UK in order to prove that miracle babies are real. He says this will help him win his extradition fight against Kenya and quash the criminal charges he faces.
African midwives and doctors in his congregation have tested Edith, Deya says, and confirmed her pregnancies. Any questions relating to the independence of these medics is greeted with allegations of discrimination by Deya. “I could have you charged for saying that,” he says.
Deya rants about how British doctors have treated the mothers of these so-called miracle babies like animals by not believing their pregnancy stories. The hospital back in Kenya where the miracle babies were born was closed by the government following allegations against Deya. When asked why he doesn’t produce the doctors who delivered Edith’s children in court, Deya says that they are being hounded by the Kenyan government.
What about DNA tests? “I am not a DNA expert,” he says, “I am a prayerman and I believe in God and in Jesus and that miracles can happen and that these women I ministered to gave birth. According to the people who are experts, the DNA, they said, doesn’t match.
“Women like Edith should not be harassed for DNA. Edith will give birth in Britain and that will prove the miracle. The miracle will prove itself. I cannot prove a miracle.”
Other female members of Deya’s congregation in the UK, including one woman called Miriam Nyeko, are also expecting miracle babies, Deya claims. Some miracle babies have also been born in Guyana in South America.
Deya believes that he is a “good Samaritan” for taking the women to Kenya to give birth, adding that he once saved the sick wife of an African king through the power of his prayers.
“People cannot say that I am someone who is not benefiting human beings,” he says as he launches into the story of his life. His grandfather, apparently, was the first person in Kenya to become a Christian. His mother was told by a white archbishop “that her son would be a great prophet”.
“Then in 1967 something unusual happened to me aged 15. I was in my village,” he says, “when a light struck me and I was slain on the floor. I saw Jesus himself and I was telling people ‘here is Jesus’, but they did not see him. Jesus took a stick, and there were flocks around, and he told me to take my flocks home. From that moment, I started casting demons out and healing in Jesus’s name.
“Everything which has happened in the bible from Chapter One is happening to me,” says Deya. “Any apostle or prophet in the bible who was used to do miracles like me was killed. Peter was crucified; the apostle Paul was persecuted like me. They were lied against the way they have lied on me. I have performed miracles which are beyond human imagination. That’s why I am being persecuted. Peter made the cripple walk and he was persecuted; Jesus himself was crucified because he was healing the sick, casting out demons and saying that he was the son of the living God.”
Deya says his followers “don’t believe in drinking, smoking, separation, singleness, sex out of marriage, birth out of marriage or a woman calling the police on her husband”. This fundamentalist form of Christianity is “the right way for human nature”, he says, adding that he “trusts” that Aids is a revenge from God for human promiscuity.
According to Deya, he will be killed if he is extradited to Kenya. “Nobody will ever see me again on earth,” he adds. “The allegation is that I am in a new slave trade for children. I am an archbishop. Would I have a business selling people?”
Back in Kenya the number of people claiming that these miracle babies are their own “stolen” children is growing. Among them is Lucy Mbugua from Nairobi, who believes that one of Odera’s children belongs to her. Another woman, Agnes Njue, was told shortly after her son was born in 2002 that he had died. The hospital never produced a body. She thinks one of the miracle babies belongs to her too.
Elizabeth Njenga said her daughter Salome was taken to another ward shortly after birth. Njenga was later told the child was dead and warned not to talk about her baby.
Millie Odhiambo, who campaigns for children’s legal rights in Kenya, says babies can be bought easily in the country. One father, Stephen Gashingo, who believes his child is among the miracle babies, was told his son had died three days after he was born – but when he was shown a baby’s body it did not have his son’s birthmark.
Another father, John Ndoyne, was told his child died in 1998. He too was shown a newborn’s body by a nurse. “I suspected foul play,” he said. “I told her the baby was not mine.” Ndoyne didn’t report the incident as at the time the country was ruled by Moi, who was notoriously corrupt.
Deya hits back with a story which he claims shows the truth behind these claims. He says that a woman in Kenya who came forward to say that his newborn baby daughter was actually her own was bribed to do so by the government. “She gave birth on February 5 and says that my wife and I went to hospital and took the baby before she saw the child. The doctor then told the woman the child was dead.”
But Deya claims that he has videotape of the baby being born and passport stamps which show he left Kenya in January and was away from the country throughout February and most of March. “If I was in the hospital then it must have been a special ghost,” he says. Deya did not produce either the tape or the passport stamps, although he says he will do so at a press conference next week.
None of these claims of “stolen babies” is particularly exercising the mind of Deya’s Scottish lawyer, Aamer Anwar. “We do not have to defend claims about miracle babies – that is for the Kenyan authorities. I am dealing with an extradition matter. This is a human rights issue and my client believes he will not get a fair trial if he is extradited due to political and religious persecution and media publicity in Kenya.”
The police in Kenya say Deya is guaranteed a fair trial and there is no personal animosity towards him, but their assurances have done little to ease the archbishop’s fears. He has hexed President Kibaki of Kenya and the Attorney General. His curse decreed that their “children and grandchildren will die in the streets”. After that he cursed the men’s wives to an early death and “proclaimed damnation” on the entire nation of Kenya.
Deya says he has no idea where his own children who were taken into care are. “It is horrible,” he says, “but I take it easy because I am paying the price of the Gospels. I am paying the price for being God’s servant. All of God’s servants suffer – even Jesus.”