There has been jubilation aplenty in the home of Nojim and Mariam Bello, the couple in Ifo, a community in Ogun State, whose 17-day-old baby, Balikis, was on October 23, 2015 by Ife Yekini, a woman who had visited the mother, ostensibly to rejoice with her, following the birth of the baby.
The baby was recovered in Sango-Ota, Ogun State on November 14 and re-united with her parents, thus ending the harrowing trauma they experienced in the wake of the abduction. Trouble began for the family when Yekini visited Mariam Bello, on the pretext of congratulating her on the birth of the child. Baby Balikis is the result of the love relationship between 16-year-old Mariam and Nojim, 40, which began two years ago and eventually led to a pregnancy.
Balikis was born on October 6 and the naming was held eight days after on October 13 at the home of Nojim’s elder brother. Three days later, Mariam returned to Nojim’s house. But on October 23, 2015, the woman at the centre of the alleged abduction saga, Yekini, visited Mariam, who warmly welcomed her, though she had never met her in the past. Recalling what transpired that evil day,
Mariam told Sunday Sun: “When she came, I received her even though I never knew her before that day. But she insisted that she knew me from where I worked as a shop assistant at Iyana-logbo. I did not want to be rude so I asked her to come in. She sat down and asked to see the baby’s face. In fact, she asked me to buy her food. After sometime, she said she wanted to buy clothes at the market and said that I should follow her. I told her I couldn’t leave the baby behind so she volunteered to carry the baby on her back. We went out through the back door and all who saw us kept asking where we were going and why I was not carrying my baby.”
Mariam said she told those who saw her with the woman that she was aunt, who wanted to buy some clothes for the baby. At the market, they located a shop and Ife picked a few of the clothes she desired. She however gave the clothes and her purse to Mariam saying she wanted to pick up some money from a stall at the other end, asking Mariam and the shop owner to wait. Once Yekini was out of view of the duo of Maraim and the shop owner, she left the market and did not come back. After waiting for a long while, Mariam became very frantic, and began searching the woman, crying as she moved up and down the market.
As Sunday Sun learnt, when stall owners and buyers at the market asked why she was crying, she said: “My baby has been stolen. I am a daughter of Bintinlaiye. This prompted someone to call Nojim’s aunt, Mrs. Hadijat Bello alias Bintinlaiye, on the phone, who then sent daughter, Aminat to the market to help Mariam. When Aminat got there, Mariam explained what happened, gave Aminat the purse given to her by Yekini and fainted. Mariam was immediately revived and rushed home by a commercial motorcyclist and her in-law.
Continuing the tale, Aminat, told Sunday Sun: “When I opened the purse, I found some spoilt phones that had no batteries or simcards and a lotto paper. That was all that was in the purse, there was nothing of value. She should not have allowed her carry that baby or referred to her as her aunty to people who asked her where she was going.”
According to Mrs Hadijat Bello, Nojim’s aunt, who doubles as his mother, Mariam had a child last year but she mistakenly slept on the baby, who died a day to the naming ceremony. While Nojim and Mariam pined away, traumatized by the theft of their newborn baby girl, providence quietly got into the mix and gave the Yekini, no peace of mind. When she could no longer endure the torment on her conscience as the baby’s guardian angel pounded on the door of her heart, she carried the baby in a box to the side of a road in Sango Ota with intent to dump her there for a passerby to rescue. The passerby turned out to be a commercial motorcyclist who caught Yekini in the very act of dumping the baby.
On sighting the motorcyclist, Yekini ran off. The man raised the alarm, which attracted people around, who chased and caught her and dragged her to Onipan Police Station, Sango-Ota. Police officers at the station called Nojim, informin him that the baby had been found. He sent Aminat, who rushed over and positively identified the baby as her cousin’s child. As it turned out, Yekini had initially claimed at the police station, she took the baby from Ibadan.
The police officers asked her to take them to where she got the baby in Ibadan. Seeing that the game was up, Yekini confessed that she took the baby from Ifo town. Narrating what happened at the station, Aminat said: “During interrogation, Yekini said she cast a spell on Maraim, to enable her take the baby from her. She mentioned two places where she hid for some days after stealing the baby, before selling her for N30,000 to Baba Alaye who uses babies for money rituals. Unfortunately, the Baba could not use the baby because her spirit was strong. So he called her to take back the baby to the family, warning that she must not kill the child.
Yekini confessed that after she handed over the baby to the herbalist, she started falling sick and her condition got worse when the baby was returned to her house. Since she could not come back to Ifo, she decided to dump the baby in a bush near a prominent farm in the town where she was caught.” More worrisome is the revelation by Yekini that two other people aided her in the baby-stealing caper.
According to her, one of the accomplices was a neighbour of Nojim called Baba Bee and a neighbour of Mrs Hadijat Bello. Expressing joy that his baby was returned hale and hearty, Nojim thanked the police for the good way they handled the matter. He said: “I appreciate what the Police did for me and my family. I pray that the Police and the court would handle the case well and punish that woman.”