She almost threw our community in crisis – Village head
The people of Idi Isakagba in Iragbiji, Boripe Local Government Area of Osun State, were recently confronted with a kind of dilemma faced by Biblical King Solomon: Two women, claiming to be the real mother of a new-born baby, were brought before the village head of the community.
Each of the women insisted that the baby girl was hers! Although this case was not totally the same as that in King Solomon’s anecdote, the way and manner in which it was resolved did not completely veer off from the ruling given by him in 1 King 3:16-28.
I was at the backyard washing my baby’s clothes and after about 30 minutes, I went into our bedroom to check my child, but she had disappeared
Aware of the real condition of a woman just delivered of a baby, the village head, instead of calling for a sword, like the Biblical King Solomon did, to cut the baby in dispute into two to pacify both women, summoned traditional birth attendants and midwives in the community and directed them to carry out an examination of the one found in possession of the child.
It was this situation that the bewildered residents of Idi Isakagba penultimate week were confronted with, when a housewife, Mrs. Rebecca Ponnle, was allegedly caught with a newly born baby girl belonging to one of her neighbours.
Ponnle, said to have yet to have a child of her own since she got married a few years ago, had allegedly feigned being pregnant with a fake protruding stomach for nine months. Her neighbours had been felicitating with her over this period, expecting her to deliver her first child.
But some vigilant neighbours of Ponnle, a native of Ikirun, became suspicious when she suddenly appeared with a baby girl in the afternoon of penultimate Wednesday. She was said to have informed her curious neighbours that she fell into labour and was delivered of her baby on her way from the market.
The sleepy town was, however, soon thrown into confusion when one of Ponnle’s neighbours, Mrs. Tolani Najeem, a nursing mother, who had given birth to a baby girl about ten days before Ponnle claimed to have had hers, suddenly raised the alarm about her missing newly born child. She said the new-born got missing from her bedroom, where she had left her.
Our correspondent gathered, Najeem cried out about her missing baby barely 30 minutes after Ponnle brought her own newly born child home.
Sympathisers immediately besieged Najeem’s residence, while a search party was raised to comb the whole village for the missing baby.
According to the victim, she had left the missing child in her cot in the bedroom and had gone to the backyard to wash her clothes. But after a while, when she went back to check her baby, to her consternation, she was confronted with the sight of an empty cot as the child was nowhere to be found inside the bedroom!
Speaking in Yoruba with our correspondent, the nursing mother, Najeem, said, “I was at the backyard washing my baby’s clothes and after about 30 minutes, I went into our bedroom to check my child, but she had disappeared. I was disturbed because my husband was not at home and no relative was around that could have taken the child. Immediately, I phoned my husband to inform him and he left his work place back home.
“We started crying and telling neighbours and residents that our child was missing. So, many people gathered and some youths volunteered to check the nooks and crannies of our village for the child,” she said.
Some of the sympathisers were said to have informed the search party that one of Najeem’s neighbours claimed that she just gave birth to a child. Immediately, the youths stormed Ponnle’s room and found the baby on her bed. The suspect, however, allegedly insisted that the child belonged to her.
To resolve this puzzle about the whereabouts of the new-born baby, concerned residents took the matter to the village head, Baale of Idi Isakagba, Chief J.A Adeniji.
Adeniji summoned some traditional birth attendants and local midwives, instructing them to check the suspect’s (Ponnle’s) private part to ascertain the veracity of her claim to have actually just given birth to a baby.
After the inspection of the suspect by the midwives, it was discovered that there was no sign that she gave birth to the baby as she had claimed.
Our correspondent learnt that the midwives declared that Ponnle’s private part had no traces of the kind of condition usually found with a mother just delivered of a baby.
It was also discovered that the baby Ponnle claimed as hers had an already shaved head and her earlobes notched as stated by the nursing mother, Mrs. Najeem.
The incident sparked off crisis in the village as some angry residents attempted to lynch Ponnle after the baby was retrieved from her. But for the quick intervention of the village head, who pacified the mob and contacted the police, the suspect would have been beaten to death.
“The woman almost put this community in problems. Immediately it was discovered that she was not the mother of the baby and that she had been pretending to be pregnant in the past nine months, some of our people wanted to attack her. But I prevailed on them not to. Some of our local security agents had arrived to protect her from being mobbed before I contacted the police division in Iragbiji,” the village head said.
One of Ponnle’s neighbours, Mrs. Iyabo Adepoju, told our correspondent, “We thought she was truly pregnant and we had been thanking God for her because she had been barren ever since she got married. But the day she brought the child home under suspicious circumstances, I was surprised because she did not really appear like someone who just gave birth; more so, she had gone to the market before she returned with the child. I did not know she could do such a thing because she is close to Mrs. Najeem and both of them were believed to be carrying pregnancies at the same time.”
Meanwhile, efforts by our correspondent to speak with Ponnle failed as policemen from the Iragbiji Police Division immediately arrested and took her to the station.
When contacted, the Iragbiji Divisional Police Officer, who declined to be identified, said the case had been transferred to the state Police Command in Osogbo.