April 19, 2024
Abuja, NG 39 C

A publication of Tari Media & Publications

How paternity test helped me recover ‘stolen’ daughter 20 years after – Anambra woman

Mrs Gloria Okwudili, an indigene of Anambra State, who claims to be the biological mother of a 20-year-old lady, Juliet Agulanna, who was allegedly stolen from her at birth, talks to RAPHAEL EDE about the series of events

You claimed that an alleged human trafficking victim, Juliet Agulanna, is your daughter. How are you related to her?

I got married to Prof Okwudili in 1997. We had our traditional marriage on March 20, 1997, and between 1997 and 1999, I tried to have a child but couldn’t. So, my sister-in-law recommended a gynaecologist then at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu State, who had a private hospital in New Haven (in Enugu). We were advised to go there because he was said to be good at fertility issues. When I met him, he recommended some tests, which I underwent; some were done at Parklane Hospital, now Enugu State University Teaching Hospital. When I returned with the results, he said I had hormonal imbalance and placed me on a drug to enhance ovulation that could trigger multiple fertilisation. I started the medication in 2000 and in October of that year, I became pregnant; a pregnancy test came out positive.

What happened after that?

The pregnancy started progressing with no sickness and no vomiting, and I started going for antenatal. I was managed by the gynaecologist, who used his ultrasound machine to monitor the baby. He told me that the baby was fine. On one of the days I went for antenatal, he said the baby was a precious child and thanked God. On July 12, 2001, another ultrasound showed that the baby was fine.

How did you give birth to the child?

On getting to the hospital on a Monday, the doctor instructed a chief nurse to place me on a drip. Thereafter, they took me to one of the private rooms upstairs. Immediately after I was given a bed, the nurse, as instructed, put the inducing drug. The nurse continued changing the drip until Wednesday night when the doctor came and raised the inducement. At midnight, I went into labour and was weak. In the evening, my husband came and saw how I was struggling in pain and said he would not go home, but stay with me. The workers at the hospital started persuading him to go home. They told him not to worry. After much pressure, I told my husband to go home and he did. A few hours after he left, around midnight, I went into labour. Shortly after, they brought me a baby boy and told me he was my son. I immediately named him Nzubechukwu, which means God’s will.

Did you have the child by Caesarean section or naturally?

Before the nurse left, he told me to push and I knew I pushed. I also had a tear in my private parts and it was sutured.

Were you at any point during the pregnancy told you were carrying a set of twins?

The doctor didn’t tell me that I had twins or that I was pregnant with twins. He hid it; he only told me that I had a precious child. But at the St Mulumba Catholic Church, New Haven, where I worship, people called me ‘Mama Ijima’ (mother of twins)

Did the ultrasound not show that you were carrying twins?

The doctor had everything in his hospital. He had the ultrasound machine and operated it by himself; whatever he wanted, he did by himself. He never told me that I was pregnant with twins. I did not also go to another hospital for a test because I never suspected anything.

Did he give you the ultrasound result he conducted

No, he didn’t.

Why did you not ask him to give the result?

I didn’t ask because he had told me that I was carrying one (baby). He always told me that I had a child and that it was a boy, and that he was a precious child. So, I never bothered because he was one of the best gynaecologists in Enugu. So, I had no reason to suspect that he could lie to me.

How did you discover that you had a daughter 20 years after?

I must tell you that it is a miracle. Whatever God cannot do does not exist. I had three shops I used for trading, but I later rented one of them out in 2021. I was in my shop one day when a woman carrying a baby came looking for a shop to rent. She told me that she wanted to take the shop. When I asked her what she wanted to sell in the shop, she said she wanted to open a salon. I refused to rent the shop to her. She came for about three days begging and saying she was not a troublesome person, but I didn’t yield to her pleas. However, immediately after she left and crossed the main road in front of the shop, I called her back and rented the shop to her. About three months later, I was in my shop when a girl came, greeted me and asked about the woman. She asked me if the woman was good at dressing hair and that she wanted to learn from her; that was in 2021. I told her that the woman was not around but advised her to return later.

One day, when I was in my shop, one woman, Mrs Agulanna, came and told me to join her as she was about to sign an agreement for her daughter to learn hairdressing from the woman I rented the shop to. She came with some drinks and biscuits. So, I came out and sat down in front of my shop and she gave me a bottle of drink and some biscuits.  After that day, the girl started learning the skill. Not quite too long after, people who came to my shop started saying that the girl looked like me and my son. They said she spoke like us.

What was your reaction?

I was not interested in the talk because I didn’t know that I delivered a set of twins in the hospital. As people were talking, I said I had a son, and that people could look alike. Sometimes, when I leave the shop to go to the house to do something and she (the girl) was around, she took care of the shop until I returned. At times when people came to buy an item, they asked her about my whereabouts thinking I was her mother, but she told them that her mother was not the shop owner. Some asked her if I was not her mother.

This became the talk of the neighbourhood. So, one day when I came out of my shop, some people who came to make their hair called the girl, Juliet, and asked her when she said she was born. She said July 18, 2002, and immediately it struck me. I was shocked. I asked her if she was sure about her date of birth. She said she was born in Ezeani, New Haven. I said there was no hospital in Ezeani and no maternity in Ezeani. So, she took her phone, called her mother and asked her, and her mother repeated what she (Juliet) said. I insisted that there was no hospital in Ezeani and then went home.

What happened next?

The following day, when I came out to open my shop, the girl came begging me to forgive her.

Why?

She said she wasn’t born on July 18 but on June 14. I wondered what was going on. She also said that her mother said she was born somewhere in Abakpa. So, I forgot about it and after some time, the girl started coming close to me. Whenever I went to the house to do something, she watched over the shop for me. Whenever she was less busy, she used to come to my shop and we discussed and laughed. Thereafter, she started coming close to my family. So one day, I asked her if she knew her weight at birth and she said her mother told her it was 2.2kg, but my son, Nzubechukwu, weighed 3.8kg (at birth). I told her that my son cried a lot when he was a baby and she said her foster mother said she did the same.

Did she tell you other things about herself?

She said many things about her upbringing. She said she often told her foster mother that she was a twin, that she had a twin brother. She said whenever they (foster parents) provoked her, she would go into the house, pack her things and say, ‘This is not my home; I will go to my house’. She said she had done that more than three times because of how they had been maltreating her. She said her foster mother treated her badly and shouted at her for every little thing she did. She also said when she was in school in Akwa Ibom, they (foster parents)  rarely visited her. So, as we were bonding together, she requested a pair of eyeglasses as hers was bad. She said her teacher told the foster mother that her eye problem was hereditary.

Do you have a problem with your eyes?

My family has an eye problem, myopia, and it is hereditary. I have it, my son has it. I inherited it from my mother and my mother inherited it from her mother. It was when she saw that my son wore a pair of eyeglasses that she started requesting. She told my husband that she wanted one. He told her to tell our son to take her to a doctor to have her eyes examined.

Did the doctor notice anything about your son and the girl?

After examining her, the doctor asked them whether they were siblings because they had the same eyes. Nzubechukwu didn’t say anything but laughed. I wasn’t with them but they returned and they relayed what happened to me. In the first week of July 2022, the girl woke up one morning and told her foster mother that my husband and I said that she was our daughter and that our son, Nzubechukwu, had a twin sister, who was stolen in the hospital where they were born. She said her foster mother threatened to call the police, quarrelled with her and laid curses on her. The following morning, the woman told the girl that she had a dream where I said that all I said about her being my daughter was a joke. The girl got angry and came to my shop that early morning and pleaded with me to do a DNA test with her. I asked her if she was sure about what she wanted to do and if she had discussed it with Mama Chika (her foster mother) and she said yes.

Did you carry out the DNA test with her as she requested?

When my husband returned, I told him what the girl said and he asked me where such a test could be done in Enugu. I told him that I would ask around. We started searching and were directed to a place. My husband went there and made an inquiry and was told that only the father and child could undergo the test. On July 7, 2022, the girl came to our house and we took her to a molecular laboratory at Rangers Avenue for the DNA test. When we got there, they asked questions, and thereafter asked me, my husband and Juliet to sign some documents to confirm that we all were not forced to undergo the test. Juliet gladly signed, I signed and my husband signed. They took them inside. I didn’t follow them. After collecting their specimens, they told us that the result would take two months to be ready

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