30th August, 2010
Founder, Little Saints Orphanage, Rev. Dele George and Evangelist Tola Garuba Momoh of the Jesus Widowâ€™s Ministry, have been arrested over an adoption saga involving a four year-old child in Lagos, South West Nigeria.
George was implicated because because she was deceived through her orphanage.
The woman at the centre of the adoption saga of a four-year old girl, Esther, is Evangelist Momoh who allegedly initiated the process over three years ago.
Momoh was alleged to have collected a child, who was then less than a year old from a dying mother at a shack, near Sheraton Hotels and Tower, Opebi area of Lagos, Nigeria over three years ago.
She was acting as a Good Samaritan then, when she took the mother of the baby, Queen Sunday, who was suspected to have HIV and the baby who was also sick to the hospital where Queen eventually died.
Queenâ€™s husband, Sunday was said to have died long before her, thus leaving the child behind with no relation to claim her. Momoh was said to have organised the burial of Queen at Atan Cemetery, while she later took the baby to Little Saints Orphanage for care.
She told the founder of the orphanage that she would come back after some time to claim the baby after she would have located the father of the child.
Three months later, Momoh brought Yinka Omisore, a.k.a GovernorÂ to the orphanage to pose as the father of the child to enable her adopt the child. She said she had no child for her present husband, Pastor Alfred Momoh of the Sovereign Evangelist Ministry, Akute, Ogun State.
She was first married to Garuba, who later died, with whom she bore two children.
After Governor, who was the leader of the area boys under the bridge where Queen lived before she died, had posed as the father of the child and signed necessary documents at Little Saints Orphanage, George released the child to him, while he in turn handed the child over to Momoh who took her home and had been nurturing the baby for over two years.
The bubble bust when a journalist who asked not to be mentioned in the news went to under the bridge to interview Governor, who let out the secret of the matter, alleging that Evangelist Momoh, also a teacher at Opebi Primary School, asked him to pose as the father of the child to enable her adopt the child.
The journalist had visited the community of 500 people living under the bridge and interviewed Queen when she was still alive and knew that she had four children, including a new born and when he was told that she was dead he asked after the baby.
It was then that Governor opened up and told him what transpired, which led to investigation of the whereabouts of the child.
After discovering the circumstances surrounding the adoption of the child, he sent a text message to Governor Babatunde Fasholaâ€™s phone, while the governor asked the Special Adviser, Youth and Social Development, Dr. Dolapo Badru to investigate the issue.
This led to the arrest of Momoh and George while governor was invited to testify about the illegal adoption of the baby without the knowledge of the Lagos State Government.
At the office of the Permanent Secretary, Youth and Social Development on Saturday, all the parties in the adoption saga were interrogated by Criminal Investigation Department, CID officers attached to the Office of the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice.
According to Governor, he was promised N150, 000 to stand in as the father of the child at Little Saints Orphanage which he did successfully, adding that he was only given N10, 000 out of the money after Momoh had collected the baby.
He explained that Momoh used to come to preach to them under the bridge and that on the said occasion when she came to ask him to stand in as the father of the disputed baby, she came with her husband, Alfred and allegedly negotiated the deal with him.
Governor gave the name of the baby as Blessing and not Esther, being the new name the child was given by the Momohs, adding that he agreed to stand in as the father of the child because of the money he was promised.
He also alleged that two of the late womanâ€™s children were earlier taken away by the Momohs and that since then he did not know the whereabouts of the children.
Another man, simply called Akin who had lived under the same bridge with Governor, corroborated the story, saying that he knew Momoh very well when she used to come to the area to preach to them and that he knew that Governor went to pose as the father of the baby when he was not the real father.
In her defence, Momoh denied promising or giving money to Governor to pose as the father of the baby, saying that Governor told her that he was the father of the baby, which informed the meeting at Little Saints Orphanage to claim the baby back and adopt her.
She also claimed that the mother of the baby was named Rosemary Sunday whose husband died sometime ago and not Queen as claimed by Governor, adding that when she went under the bridge to see the family of a bereaved child in her school, Opebi Primary School, she discovered a particular woman with a small child who was in serious health condition.
According to her, the woman, Rosemary, told her to take her child and nurture her as she had been told that she was suffering from a deadly disease that would soon claim her life, adding that on hearing that, she took the woman and the baby to the hospital where she later died.
She denied knowing the other two children of the woman and that she was not the one that took them away, but added that the deceased told her before she died that she had two other children who had been sold out.
In her defence, the Little Saints Orphanage boss, George said Momoh came to her before bring the baby to ask if the orphanage was willing to help take care of her and that she obliged to help.
â€œShe told us that the childâ€™s name was Esther.Â Â She brought the death and burial certificates to us. The day she brought the child, she told me that she would come back for her again and also told me that the deceased woman had two other children and that she would look for the children.
â€œEsther was supposed to stay for a few months, but when she had overstayed, I told her (Momoh) that we have to take the child for adoption or fostering.Â Â She later came back to say she had found the father of the baby and that the father was a drug addict and was not sure he would like to come along but that she would send for the father,â€ she explained.
According to her, she handed the baby to the supposed father of the baby under the watchful eyes of the police after the supposed father had signed the necessary documents and took pictures which she tendered as exhibit.
She said she investigated and found out that Momoh was truly a woman of God and that she parted with the baby the way it should be done, saying that she had no blame in the matter.
Permanent Secretary, Youth and Social Development, Mr. Kamol Junaid told George that where her action became illegal was that she refused to involve officials of the ministry in the adoption saga, which was against the child act laws of the state.
He added that the Extract from the police, which George claimed was obtained, was full of contradictions and could not be relied upon to have led to giving out of the child under suspicious circumstances.
Special Adviser, Youth and Social Development, Dr. Badru said the Little Saints Orphanage boss knew very well the guidelines for adoption of a child which must involve the state government, adding that after thorough investigation, those found culpable would be made to face the wrath of the law.
George was later released on bail while the police decided to keep Momoh in detention as her release might jeopardise their investigation.