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‘How my baby was snatched at gunpoint’

Janet Jonathan, an indigene of Kaduna State, was full of optimism and hopes for her baby. She told this reporter that her joy knew no…

Janet Jonathan, an indigene of Kaduna State, was full of optimism and hopes for her baby. She told this reporter that her joy knew no bounds as she cuddled her baby girl while waiting for the routine immunisation at the hospital in Gwagwalada. Unknown to her, fate had a different plan for her on that day. In her words, “When I became pregnant, I always begged God to bless me with a baby girl. And when I finally delivered, he blessed me one, until a devil incarnate came and snatched her away from me,” she said in tears.

Her sorrow could hardly be contained as she tried to be strong while narrating her ordeal.

“When I gave birth to my child, we did not immunise her, because we were told to go back for it. When my baby was ten days old, my husband took me to the hospital to immunise her. When we entered, we saw that the place was full to capacity and I told my husband to go to work and not worry about me. I told him that I would find my way back home when I’m through with the immunisation.

“There was a pregnant woman sitting on a chair close to us. She greeted my husband and I and said ‘congratulations.’ Unbeknownst to us, she had other plans. My baby was given the immunisation and I went ahead to collect her birth certificate, which I did not collect after I gave birth. “On my way out of the hospital, the woman asked if I was through and I told her yes and she wished me well. On getting outside, I found that it was windy and about to rain, so it was difficult to get an okada to take me to my house. I decided to walk up the road a little bit in anticipation of getting a commercial motorcyclist, but it was getting very windy and cloudy. Then I saw a white Golf car coming towards me. It stopped by my side and when I looked in, it was the same lady that had greeted me in the hospital.

“She asked where I was going, saying she was through with her antenatal. She said since it was getting really windy, she could drop me off along my route. I told her not to bother as I was going to Maryland and she said she was going towards that way also, to an orphanage. I declined her offer twice and even told her that my mind did not accept that I go with her. On her third insistence, I did not know what happened, but I found myself in her car. As her driver was driving, she suddenly asked him to stop and I inquired why she was stopping. She then asked me to hand my baby over. At first, I thought it was a joke until she brought out a gun and pointed it at me, saying if I did not hand the baby over, she would kill me.

“I asked her what she wanted the baby for and she said that I should just give her the baby.  She then started struggling with me and I insisted that I would rather die than hand my baby over to her. She somehow overpowered me and pushed me out of the vehicle and the driver hurriedly drove off with my baby bag and the birth certificate of the baby that I collected just that day. All I could hear thereafter were the screams of my baby until I stopped hearing them. I never thought it was real until I stood up and realised that my baby was not with me. It was then that it dawned on me that my baby had been kidnapped and I started screaming. Then a man came out from a nearby bush and asked me what happened and I explained to him and he tried to follow the track of the car to no avail. He then took me to the police station and we laid a formal complaint.”

At this juncture, Janet could no longer control her tears as she kept asking, “Rame (the name of the baby), please where are you? Do not give that woman peace as I know you are still alive. Please, disturb her to bring you back to me. Please, Hajiya, help me to tell people to look out for my child. Without her, I do not think that this life will be normal for me anymore,” she cried to our reporter.

The kidnapper who was described as fair in complexion, short and rotund, is believed to be in desperate need of a child considering that she disguised as a pregnant woman who also went to the hospital for routine antenatal check-up. Though some people believe it could be for ritual purposes, the baby’s mother is always quick to refute such speculations, as she exclaimed, “Please, do not say that as I strongly believe that my baby is alive. I hear her cries and my breasts are always dripping with milk, meaning that my child is still alive.”

When contacted, the hospital authorities said that they were not aware of the incident. They said they were only told of it after people heard about it on radio when they made the announcement over the missing baby. Speaking under the condition of anonymity, a staff of the hospital said, “It is quite unfortunate that this kind of thing happened. We on our part have tried on several occasions to beef up security, but you know, being a public hospital, we would have all sorts of characters coming in for one thing or the other and so it will be very hard for us to really check those that have genuine cases before they are allowed into the hospital

“Sincerely speaking, our hands are really tied in this kind of situation. The kidnapper in question might just have used the hospital to target her victim. That is why we always advise that people, especially mothers, should be careful about the kind of vehicles they enter. You cannot trust people these days,” she said.

Apparently foiled by the increase in security in some hospitals and the vigilance of the police, kidnappers have devised another means of luring their victims. The police told Weekly Trust that on their part, they have tried everything possible to recover the baby to no avail. “We have always told people to be watchful. There are people out there who are desperate and they can do anything to get what they want.

“But it is funny, because if the woman (kidnapper) desperately wanted a child, she should have gone to motherless babies homes where there are numerous babies that are in dire need of a home. We all need to be very watchful and beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing,” a police officer who preferred not to be named, said. He added that a signal has been sent to hospitals within and around Abuja with a description of the suspect.

With no specific statistics to indicate how many incidents of this nature have occurred nationwide, some parents that were spoken to attested to being approached while leaving the hospital by someone they did not know after giving birth to their baby. “When I gave birth three months ago and we were going back home, a woman approached us and offered to help us to a place where we could easily get a vehicle, but my husband refused, saying that he was not comfortable with her. The woman kept insisting and my husband shouted at her that we did not need her assistance,” says Mrs Tina Emmanuel.  The new trend of kidnapping babies by strangers, especially women, remains extremely rare.

Mr Jonathan, the father of the missing child, said he became confused when he was told of what had happened. He said he is now afraid that his wife might do something terrible to herself. He explains, “When it happened, it was very difficult to calm her down as she refused to eat or even do anything than just cry and scream for the return of her child. I am afraid that she might do something terrible to herself, as most times, she suddenly gets up and picks a cloth before running back to the place where the incident happened. She always claims that she can hear the cries of the baby calling her. I must confess that it has not been easy, but we have not relented in our prayers as we believe that our child is still alive and will definitely come back to us,” he concluded with hope and enthusiasm.

This incident has brought to the fore the fact that kidnapping has taken a different dimension, meaning that families and law enforcement agencies need to be more aware of the dangers that lie ahead.

thought it was a joke until she brought out a gun and pointed it at me, saying if I did not hand the baby over, she would kill me.

“I asked her what she wanted the baby for and she said that I should just give her the baby.  She then started struggling with me and I insisted that I would rather die than hand my baby over to her. She somehow overpowered me and pushed me out of the vehicle and the driver hurriedly drove off with my baby bag and the birth certificate of the baby that I collected just that day. All I could hear thereafter were the screams of my baby until I stopped hearing them. I never thought it was real until I stood up and realised that my baby was not with me. It was then that it dawned on me that my baby had been kidnapped and I started screaming. Then a man came out from a nearby bush and asked me what happened and I explained to him and he tried to follow the track of the car to no avail. He then took me to the police station and we laid a formal complaint.”

At this juncture, Janet could no longer control her tears as she kept asking, “Rame (the name of the baby), please where are you? Do not give that woman peace as I know you are still alive. Please, disturb her to bring you back to me. Please, Hajiya, help me to tell people to look out for my child. Without her, I do not think that this life will be normal for me anymore,” she cried to our reporter.

The kidnapper who was described as fair in complexion, short and rotund, is believed to be in desperate need of a child considering that she disguised as a pregnant woman who also went to the hospital for routine antenatal check-up. Though some people believe it could be for ritual purposes, the baby’s mother is always quick to refute such speculations, as she exclaimed, “Please, do not say that as I strongly believe that my baby is alive. I hear her cries and my breasts are always dripping with milk, meaning that my child is still alive.”

When contacted, the hospital authorities said that they were not aware of the incident. They said they were only told of it after people heard about it on radio when they made the announcement over the missing baby. Speaking under the condition of anonymity, a staff of the hospital said, “It is quite unfortunate that this kind of thing happened. We on our part have tried on several occasions to beef up security, but you know, being a public hospital, we would have all sorts of characters coming in for one thing or the other and so it will be very hard for us to really check those that have genuine cases before they are allowed into the hospital

“Sincerely speaking, our hands are really tied in this kind of situation. The kidnapper in question might just have used the hospital to target her victim. That is why we always advise that people, especially mothers, should be careful about the kind of vehicles they enter. You cannot trust people these days,” she said.

Apparently foiled by the increase in security in some hospitals and the vigilance of the police, kidnappers have devised another means of luring their victims. The police told Weekly Trust that on their part, they have tried everything possible to recover the baby to no avail. “We have always told people to be watchful. There are people out there who are desperate and they can do anything to get what they want.

“But it is funny, because if the woman (kidnapper) desperately wanted a child, she should have gone to motherless babies homes where there are numerous babies that are in dire need of a home. We all need to be very watchful and beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing,” a police officer who preferred not to be named, said. He added that a signal has been sent to hospitals within and around Abuja with a description of the suspect.

With no specific statistics to indicate how many incidents of this nature have occurred nationwide, some parents that were spoken to attested to being approached while leaving the hospital by someone they did not know after giving birth to their baby. “When I gave birth three months ago and we were going back home, a woman approached us and offered to help us to a place where we could easily get a vehicle, but my husband refused, saying that he was not comfortable with her. The woman kept insisting and my husband shouted at her that we did not need her assistance,” says Mrs Tina Emmanuel.  The new trend of kidnapping babies by strangers, especially women, remains extremely rare.

Mr Jonathan, the father of the missing child, said he became confused when he was told of what had happened. He said he is now afraid that his wife might do something terrible to herself. He explains, “When it happened, it was very difficult to calm her down as she refused to eat or even do anything than just cry and scream for the return of her child. I am afraid that she might do something terrible to herself, as most times, she suddenly gets up and picks a cloth before running back to the place where the incident happened. She always claims that she can hear the cries of the baby calling her. I must confess that it has not been easy, but we have not relented in our prayers as we believe that our child is still alive and will definitely come back to us,” he concluded with hope and enthusiasm.

This incident has brought to the fore the fact that kidnapping has taken a different dimension, meaning that families and law enforcement agencies need to be more aware of the dangers that lie ahead.