The police arrested Pastor Esther Ozuem, General Overseer of Word Encounter Ministry over alleged child theft. She is being detained at the State CID at Panti, Yaba, Lagos.
Today reports that Mrs Ozuem stole the nine-month-old boy from a member of her church. Police detectives discovered that the pastor took the child from his mother, 24yrs old Christianah Ebele, the day she delivered.
According to police, the pastor registered the child at the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), where the baby was immunised as Temple Ozuem, with her mother’s name given as Chinyere Ozuem.
The female pastor is now also being investigated to ascertain the maternity of her three children.
In her statement, Miss Ebele said she went to the pastor for financial assistance when she was pregnant and the “woman of God” agreed to help her.
She said she was taken to Ozuem’s church by her elder sister who worships there, adding that her sister told the pastor that they were poor and could not take care of the baby.
The woman, who denied abandoning nor selling her baby to the pastor, said she was chased out of her house for attempting to feed the crying child.
“My elder sister took me to her church where I met Pastor Esther. My sister told her that we are poor and we cannot take care of the pregnancy and that when the baby is born, life will be harder for us.
“I was eight months pregnant and she agreed to help me. Pastor Esther took me in and she promised to help establish me financially after I give birth. She told me that she will give me money to start a business and cater for the child.
“However, after I gave birth, she changed towards me. The day I gave birth, it was raining heavily. She refused to take me to the hospital. She brought a nurse to deliver me of the baby. To my shock, Pastor Esther took the baby from me immediately I gave birth and warned me not to touch the child.
“She also told me not to breastfeed the baby and when the baby was crying and I attempted to feed him, she got angry and chased me out of the house in the rain. I was crying but she did not allow me to carry my baby. I had to find my way to my sister’s house and I told her what happened.
“I did not go to the police station because I did not know what to do. Besides, I did not have money. I am very poor and can barely feed myself.
“My mother is also poor and other members of my family are not doing fine financially. So, I decided to leave everything to God. I found out that Pastor Esther took my son and she had a child naming for him without informing me. She named him Temple Ozuem and even took him to the health centre and registered him as her son. I don’t know why she came to report to the police but even now I can’t cater for him.
“I need help and it is not true that I sold my baby. She did not give me any money. I only approached her for help,” she said.
But Pastor Ozuem has insisted she did not steal the baby, claiming that the mother abandoned the child.