A new mother, Sarah Ademola, has fled the Felken Maternity Centre in the Somolu area of Lagos State, where she was delivered of a set of twins.
She left behind the two newborn girls at the centre.
PUNCH Metro gathered that Sarah disappeared from the facility due to the inability of her husband, Adeyemi Ademola, to pay the sum of N150,000 owed the hospital.
Our correspondent learnt that the whereabouts of the woman had been unknown since December 16, 2016, when she sneaked out of Felken on Awofodu Street, Pedro bus stop.
Adeyemi said he was not at home when his wife was delivered of the twins, adding that he had been struggling to raise funds to no avail.
He said appeals to the centre’s management to allow him pay by installment were turned down.
He said, “Sarah is my second wife. I had been married to my first wife for some time and when she didn’t conceive, family members started mounting pressures on us. When the pressure was unbearable, she told me to go ahead and get someone that could give me a child.
“In less than two years after I met this one (Sarah), she conceived. I was not at home on the day she was delivered of the twins. I was asked to pay N300,000 for the medical bills and from where I was, I sent N20,000 as a deposit. Because of the nature of my job, I couldn’t make it to the hospital immediately.
“But when I was off duty, I visited the hospital. At a point, I begged the management to give me some time and that I would pay them by installment, but they refused.”
He said his family later raised N70,000 from a cooperative society to make the money N90,000.
Adeyemi, who claimed to be an escort, said he was heart-broken when he heard that his wife fled the hospital over his failure to settle the bill.
He said, “On the day she ran away, I emptied my account and withdrew N60,000 through the Automated Teller Machine to make the money N150,000. I begged them to allow me to write an undertaking, and that I would not default, and that I would pay them.
“There are people owing me as well. Somebody is owing me N1.5m, another person has been owing me N280,000 since 2008, and I didn’t kill those people because of that. So, why can’t they be patient with me too?
“Now, I was told the Divisional Police Officer of Somolu Police Station wants to see me and I have been given a letter; I don’t understand all these drama?”
When our correspondent asked if he had seen his wife since she fled the hospital, he denied, adding that he had also deleted her telephone number from his mobile phone.
“I don’t know where she is right now. But I don’t really care about her. I have asked myself, if a woman could do something like this to less than two weeks old babies, what will happen if I had a bigger challenge in the future? So, I don’t want to have anything to do with her again,” he said.
PUNCH Metro learnt that Adeyemi’s first wife, Oluwabunmi, had been nursing the babies at the maternity centre since Sarah fled.
A source said Sarah, before dating Adeyemi, had had five children through her first marriage.
She said, “The reason she fled was primarily because of the money. She also said she didn’t plan to be pregnant with twins. She said she had had five children already and to add another two would be a burden.”
Our correspondent visited the maternity centre on Wednesday and the Matron of Felken Maternity Centre, Mrs. Gloria Akinbobola, said the centre had reported the case to the police at the Somolu division.
She explained that Sarah was not a registered patient at the hospital, adding that she was brought by a traditional birth attendant.
She said, “On December 3, 2016, she was rushed in, accompanied by a traditional birth attendant. No member of her family came with her. We discovered she had high blood pressure during pregnancy. Her blood pressure at the time she was brought in was 240/140. It was a case of life and death.
“We called a surgeon to attend to her and when we saw that it was a critical case, we called the husband and advised that she should be taken to a general hospital. But he begged us to save the lives of the mother and the babies.
“I spoke with him on the telephone and said his bill was N300,000 and he said he was ready to pay. He promised to send a deposit of N40,000, which he didn’t. But we didn’t mind and went on with the job; she was delivered of the babies by the specialists we brought.
“The husband later sent N20,000 and said he would send the rest of the money. We were, however, surprised that for seven days the man didn’t show up at the centre.”
Akinbobola said the specialists that attended to the patient advised that she should be kept under watch for two weeks, adding that workers at the facility were awake for three days.
“After 10 days, she said she was going to a microfinance bank to get money and we asked a nurse to accompany her. She paid N70,000.
“Few days after, I asked her how the family was planning to pay the rest of the bill and she said they were making efforts. We didn’t disturb her.
“On December 16, the day she left, I saw her discussing with someone on the telephone. Later, we discovered she was nowhere to be found,” she added.
She said the maternity centre’s delegation was on its way to seeing the family when Adeyemi’s first wife, Oluwabunmi, showed up to cater to the babies.
She said the hospital started sending people to the family house on Ayoola Street, in the Bariga area, for the balance to be paid, but the husband didn’t respond.
She said when she decided to report the case to the police, Adeyemi begged for time.
Akinbobola said the management of the centre was surprised when Lagos-based human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, queried them for keeping the babies.
She said, “Even in a general hospital, you pay for services. What if we had insisted that they pay the bills before we admitted her? Wouldn’t she have died? She survived by God’s grace. If we asked the family not to pay the balance of N150,000, how are we going to survive?”
Falana said detaining babies over debts owed by their parents was against the law.
He said, “It is illegal to detain the children. If the parents owed, the hospital must find a way of getting the money from them. What if anything happens to those babies; what will they say? I have warned the owner of the hospital that if we are compelled to sue, the damage that will be paid will be more than the money they are asking for.”
The Police Public Relations Officer, SP Dolapo Badmos, said the police planned to mediate in the matter.
She said, “The division received a report on the case. The DPO is inviting all the parties involved with the aim of settling the case amicably.”