NMS top official, six health workers detained over child trafficking syndicate

Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital

Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

A court has allowed police to detain deputy director of medical services at the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) and six other medics over allegations of running a child-trafficking syndicate at Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital.

The health workers have been detained for two days at Kilimani and Kileleshwa police stations so as to allow police conclude investigations in the theft and sale of babies that was exposed by the BBC Africa recently. 

Dr Musa Mohammed Ramadhan, the NMS deputy director of medical services was arrested today morning together with the hospital’s administrator Juliana Mbete. Others are clinicians Beatrice Njambi who is in charge of the new born unit at the hospital and Selina Awour (in charge of social services).

Also in custody is the hospital’s Chief Executive Officer Dr Emma Mutio together with administrator Dr Regina Musembi and sociologist Fred Leparan.

Dr Musa is the former medical superintendent of the hospital and was transferred one month ago to the newly created Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS). His position was taken by Dr Mutio was moved from Mbagathi hospital.

Milimani Senior Principal Magistrate Bernard Ochoi allowed the police to hold the seven suspects so that detectives can complete their investigations in the theft and sale of newborns.

The magistrate said the application by authorities to detain the suspects was not in bad faith, adding that the court was aware of the right of suspects’ to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

According to the prosecution, the alleged theft of babies at the hospital happened when Dr Musa was in charge of the facility, hence he has crucial evidence.

The magistrate directed the case Investigating Officer Chief Inspector Wanga Masake to visit the hospital and collect the documentary evidence that he believes is helpful in the investigations. During the visit, he will be accompanied by Dr Mutio and Dr Musembi.

The suspects will be produced in court on Monday, when the prosecutors will inform court on the progress and outcome of the investigations and whether the suspects will face any criminal charges.

The Investigating Officer, who is from Kilimani police station, told court that the suspects are believed to have either conspired or acted negligently hence enabling the commission of the offence of child trafficking.

He told court that the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) had received information that the suspects were engaging in child trafficking contrary to section 4(1)(1)(3) of the Counter Trafficking in Person Act, 2010 and that the same had been aired by the BBC News on November 16, 2020.

The stolen babies are mostly trafficked within Umoja and Embakasi area, said inspector Masake.

“We have reasons to believe this is a well organised criminal gang that is operating within the country whose other players are yet to be established. Several children are believed to have been trafficked with a search ongoing,” said the officer.

He told court that owing to complexity of the investigations there was need for police to continue holding the suspects before preferring the charges.

Mr Masake said in the BBC expose’ video clip the hospital was mentioned on sale of babies at a varying cost of between Sh100,000 and Sh300,000.

The court heard that the clip showed Mr Leparan negotiating with undercover journalist in a well-planned plot to sell a child who had been abandoned at the hospital.

From the same source, the court heard, Mr Leparan is seen receiving a substantial sum of money after handing over three abandoned children to the journalist. The children were later found at Imani Rehabilitation Agency.

“We have only recovered two children. We have not seen them but we have the files at Imani Children’s home. We met Embakasi children officer and she has recorded statement on the matter. We are yet to establish the mothers of the children,” said the officer.

The court further heard that the recovered children need to undergo a DNA testing.