A 15-year-old girl now living as Destiny Abraham Nelson in one of the dormitories at the State College, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State, has been identified as Eti-Mbuk David, a child allegedly stolen after the death of her mother in 2005, David David, a man who says he is the girl’s biological father has said.
David, 42, a part time teacher at the Uyo City Polytechnic and native of Idiaba village in Nsit Atai local government area of Akwa Ibom State, told Propellerng.com, weekend, that the woman who raised the child as her daughter from infancy, Veronica Abraham Nelson, 38, together with her husband, Abraham Nse Nelson, 42, had connived with her parents, Chief and Mrs Vitalis Bassey Essien, of Ikot Ekwere village in Ibiono Ibom local government area of Akwa Ibom State, and took custody of the baby shortly after the death of his wife, Monica, in 2005 without his consent.
According to David, he had met and married the then Monica Bassey Essien at Lagos in 2001, a lady he knew at the College of Education, Afaha Nsit, between 1993 and 1996 while pursuing a certificate course in education.
David said the marriage was blessed with a baby girl, Eti-Mbuk, on March 29, 2002.
He said on Monday March 14, 2005, when the girl was supposed to be about three years old, his wife collapsed and she was taken to a hospital, Ifeoluwa Clinics and Maternity at Jakande estate in Lekki, Lagos, where she died on Tuesday March 15, 2005.
Documents obtained by Propellerng.com show that the late Mrs Monica David suffered unconsciousness and died as a result of hypoglycaemia (low level of blood glucose) at the age of 29.
David said trouble started at the time he was to travel to make preparations for his wife’s burial.
He said he left his daughter with one Mary Augustine Philip, a younger sister to Monica’s mother, who also had a girl child of the same age bracket with Eti-Mbuk at the time.
David said, “when I told my in-laws about the unfortunate incident, my father in-law, Vitalis Bassey Essien, accused me of killing my wife, saying that he had earlier observed my eyes to be those of someone who was eager to make money, and that I killed my wife for ritual purposes.
“He went to the police and wrote a petition on the ritual killing of Monica Bassey Essien. I was arrested and detained. But when I showed all the documents concerning my wife’s death, I was freed and the police even reprimanded him for giving false information”.
David said after the burial of his wife, he returned to Lagos only to find out that Mary Augustine Philip had relocated from her former address with the child, Eti-Mbuk.
“I went back to my father in-law to report the matter and to find out the whereabouts of Mary and my baby. But he threatened to stab me with a machete. At that point, I ran away and told a certain Catholic priests at Ikot Ambang Ibiono where they used to worship. My in-laws refused to appear before the priest after he sent for them.
“I was so frustrated, I did not see my child again, I did not see my wife again, I then left Lagos back to Uyo to start a new life “, he said.
Propellerng.com observes that the matter was brought before the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and other Related Matters (NAPTIP) in Uyo in 2008.
It was gathered that as soon as NAPTIP became interested in the case, Essien, Nelson and their family members wrote to the agency claiming that the child had died in 2006 after series of illnesses.
“I believed them because they were my In-laws. NAPTIP insisted on exhuming the corpse, but I said they should let it go since I perceived that there would be no gain for me if the child actually died”, David said.
The visibly worried David said in 2015 someone drew his attention to an information that his daughter was alive.
“I was told that the identity of the child has been changed, and that my child has been sold out to Abraham Nelson, the husband to my late wife’s younger sister who was barren.
“I learnt that instead of adopting a child, she preferred to adopt the sister’s child. So that was how my child was sold to them”, he said.
David said he had reported the matter a second time to NAPTIP. That report, he said, made the agency to arranged for a DNA test between him, the child, and the Nelson’s family, but they (the Nelsons) failed turn up on the fixed date.
This reporter also observed that MrNelson further instituted a case in an Uyo high court for the enforcement of his fundamental rights to liberty and dignity, against David David (as 1st respondent) and five others, which included the Inspector General of Police, Commissioner of Police in Akwa Ibom, and NAPTIP.
Among the reliefs sought by Nelson include an order for general damages in the sum of ten million naira against David, NAPTIP and IPO Obase Victor of NAPTIP, the 1st, 5th and 6th respondents respectively, in his (Nelson’s) favour for what he claimed as “wrongful arrest, torture, detention, and gross infringement” of his fundamental rights.
In parts of the grounds upon which Nelson’s reliefs are sought, it was stated that David denied the paternity in 2002 when he realised that she was pregnant. It is stated in Nelson’s petition too that the late Monica Bassey Essien was a single parent and was never married to David and they never cohabited. But some documents made available to this reporter carry the name Monica David.
Contrary to David’s testimony, a statement of witness/accused made by Veronica Abraham Nelson to NAPTIP dated January 26, 2016 show that Destiny was born in March 2003. Meanwhile, a previous statement made by her in 2008 recorded that Eti-Mbuk died in 2006, while another made by her mother, Benedit Bassey Essien, 62, on January 26,2016 said the child died in 2010.
As of the time of filing this report, this reporter could not could not access the State College, Ikot Ekpene, to determine the current state of the girl, Destiny, who was said to be a senior secondary school (SSSlll) student.
A visit to Johnson Street, Monday, to locate the residence of the Nelsons was unsuccessful. House numbers were discovered to be disjointed, thus making it impossible to locate the house.
A man who identified himself as Peter Chukwuka, after a call put through to the director of operations of NAPTIP in Uyo, said he could not confirm the position of the agency on the matter, as he was in Aba, Abia State, for an official engagement.
In the same vein, this reporter accessed the mobile phone number of Mary Augustine Philip, the woman David handed over Eti-Mbuk for care in 2005. As soon as the case was introduced to her by this reporter, she declined to speak and dropped the call. At a second call put through to her, Mary said she would return the call. But as at 8 p.m, Monday, she did not returned the call as promised.
It was further gathered that an Uyo Federal High Court, Friday, last week, ordered that Vitalis Bassey Essien, late Monica’s father; Benedit Bassey Essien, the mother, and Abraham Nelson, the man on whose home the girl grew up as a child, to be remanded in prison on grounds that they jumped bail after previous summons were extended to them. The case was adjourned to Monday, March 13.
At the resumed hearing on Monday in the case with charge No Fitc/UY/010C/17 between the Federal Republic of Nigeria (through NAPTIP) and Vitalis Bassey Essien, Benedict Bassey Essien, and Abraham Nse Nelson, the court held that the trio should still be kept in prison custody until the next hearing which is scheduled for March 22, 2017.
Although Mr David is yet to establish a formal contact with Destiny, the trio of Essien, his wife and Nelson are being charged for having committed an offence punishable under section 13(2) of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act 2015.
* Family photos contained in this report is presented as obtained by Propellerng.com
Itoro BASSEY (Propellerng.com)