Family kicks over planned handover of mentally-ill woman’s baby to Lagos couple

The family of Funke Olujide, a mentally-ill woman, has raised the alarm over the planned handover of her child to another family in Lagos.

Funke’s mother, Foluke, who spoke to Newsmen, amidst tears, said the Ondo State orphanage wanted to separate the family from the child and cause pain to the mother, whom she said was already recovering.

It was reported that Funke left her house in Lagos about eight years ago due to mental illness.

She was raped by some hoodlums and impregnated in Ofosu community, Ondo State, where she wandered to.

The community subsequently handed over her baby to a welfare officer in the Idanre Local Government Area, Mrs Abimbola Babayemi, who took him to the state orphanage in Akure.

Funke was later sighted by a former neighbour in Lagos, who notified her family of her whereabouts.

After she was reunited with her family, her brother, Segun, said he visited the orphanage with Babayemi to reclaim the child.

He said they were informed by the Director of Child Development in the state Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Mr Oluwaniyi Ogunleye, that the child had been given out due to financial constraints in the orphanage.

Segun demanded his whereabouts and petitioned the state police command.

Ogunleye, who said he was not authorised to speak because it was an official matter, denied any wrongdoing, saying a court certified the adoption of the baby.

The Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr Oladiran Olawale, said the family that took the child had been asked to return him.

The police reportedly got a warrant and arrested Ogunleye and another official of the orphanage.

After the child was returned and taken to the police, It was gathered that all the parties were summoned to the command headquarters.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, Tee-Leo Ikoro, said on Sunday that the orphanage agreed to return the child to Funke’s family.

“All the parties came to my office; they brought the child and handed him over to the orphanage, and the orphanage promised to hand him over to the proper owner,” he said.

Asked who he meant by the proper owner, he said, Funke’s brother, Segun.

Segun said the orphanage asked for two weeks to return the child to him, adding that he was waiting for its call when Babayemi informed him about a court sitting.

He stated, “I was called late evening on Wednesday and told to come to Akure for a court hearing on the child by 10am on Thursday. There was no way I could make it and I did not know the full details of the hearing.

“By Thursday afternoon, we got another call that the court had ordered that the child be returned to the family they initially gave him to. They said the child would be handed over to those people this Tuesday.

“We are at a loss over this decision in our absence. The police told them to give the baby to us and they agreed, only to corner us.”

Segun said the family had been asked to look for a rights lawyer to stop the handover process.

Funke’s mother said her daughter’s full recovery depended on the baby, saying she had been crying since she heard that the child was given out.

“My eyes are swollen from tears. My daughter gave birth to her child on her own on the roadside, so why do this to her? I am begging them to show us mercy and return our child. The government should not deprive us of our child. If they thought of what she would go through because of this decision, they would not do this,” she added.

The permanent secretary, when contacted on Sunday, said only the court could reverse the adoption.

He said, “The court released the child in the first place; he was never missing from the orphanage. Nobody stole the child. The child’s adoption was legally done; he was duly approved and released by the court.

“The mistake the director (Ogunleye) made was that he did not officially write those who brought the child from Idanre. The family was informed (about the court sitting) and they did not come to court. The only option they have is to approach the court again.”

The police spokesperson, Ikoro, said he was not aware of the new development and could not comment on it.

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