I got married to Prof Okwudili in 1997, but I couldn’t have a child. I was introduced to a gynaecologist, then at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu State, who had a private hospital in New Haven (in Enugu).
Before the nurse left, he told me to push and I knew I pushed. I also had a tear in my private parts and it was sutured.
I was never told I had twins
The doctor didn’t tell me that I had twins or that I was pregnant with twins. He hid it; he only told me that I had a precious child. But at the St Mulumba Catholic Church, New Haven, where I worship, people called me ‘Mama Ijima’ (mother of twins)
The doctor had everything in his hospital. He had the ultrasound machine and operated it by himself; whatever he wanted, he did by himself. He never told me that I was pregnant with twins. I did not also go to another hospital for a test because I never suspected anything.
I didn’t ask because he had told me that I was carrying one (baby). He always told me that I had a child and that it was a boy, and that he was a precious child. So, I never bothered because he was one of the best gynaecologists in Enugu. So, I had no reason to suspect that he could lie to me.
How I discovered I had a daughter 20 years after.
I must tell you that it is a miracle. Whatever God cannot do does not exist. I had three shops I used for trading, but I later rented one of them out in 2021. I was in my shop one day when a woman carrying a baby came looking for a shop to rent. She told me that she wanted to take the shop.
One day, when I was in my shop, one woman, Mrs Agulanna, came and told me to join her as she was about to sign an agreement for her daughter to learn hairdressing from the woman I rented the shop to. She came with some drinks and biscuits. So, I came out and sat down in front of my shop and she gave me a bottle of drink and some biscuits. After that day, the girl started learning the skill. Not quite too long after, people who came to my shop started saying that the girl looked like me and my son. They said she spoke like us.
I wasn’t interested initially
I was not interested in the talk because I didn’t know that I delivered a set of twins in the hospital. As people were talking, I said I had a son, and that people could look alike. Sometimes, when I leave the shop to go to the house to do something and she (the girl) was around, she took care of the shop until I returned.
This became the talk of the neighbourhood. So, one day when I came out of my shop, some people who came to make their hair called the girl, Juliet, and asked her when she said she was born. She said July 18, 2002, and immediately it struck me. I was shocked. I asked her if she was sure about her date of birth. She said she was born in Ezeani, New Haven. I said there was no hospital in Ezeani and no maternity in Ezeani. So, she took her phone, called her mother and asked her, and her mother repeated what she (Juliet) said. I insisted that there was no hospital in Ezeani and then went home.
What happened next?
The following day, when I came out to open my shop, the girl came begging me to forgive her.
She said she wasn’t born on July 18 but on June 14. I wondered what was going on. She also said that her mother said she was born somewhere in Abakpa. So, I forgot about it and after some time, the girl started coming close to me. Whenever I went to the house to do something, she watched over the shop for me. Whenever she was less busy, she used to come to my shop and we discussed and laughed.
She told me lots of things about herself?
The eye problem in my family is hereditary
My family has an eye problem, myopia, and it is hereditary. I have it, my son has it. I inherited it from my mother and my mother inherited it from her mother. It was when she saw that my son wore a pair of eyeglasses that she started requesting. She told my husband that she wanted one. He told her to tell our son to take her to a doctor to have her eyes examined.
The doctor asked if they were siblings
After examining her, the doctor asked them whether they were siblings because they had the same eyes. Nzubechukwu didn’t say anything but laughed. I wasn’t with them but they returned and they relayed what happened to me.
The DNA test
When my husband returned, I told him what the girl said and he asked me where such a test could be done in Enugu. I told him that I would ask around. We started searching and were directed to a place. My husband went there and made an inquiry and was told that only the father and child could undergo the test. On July 7, 2022, the girl came to our house and we took her to a molecular laboratory at Rangers Avenue for the DNA test. When we got there, they asked questions, and thereafter asked me, my husband and Juliet to sign some documents to confirm that we all were not forced to undergo the test.
The DNA result came out in 3 months
The test was done on July 7 and in September, my husband called and asked me what I was doing. I told him I had just finished my night prayer and was about to sleep. He said the DNA test was out. I asked what the result was. He said he was the biological father of Juliet. So Juliet is our biological daughter; it was 99.9996 per cent positive.
I screamed. I called my family. I called my mother, who once saw the girl at my shop and told me that she looked like my son and embraced her. So, when the result came, I told her and my brothers. There was joy in my village.
So, my husband returned on September 10, 2022, and said he wanted to tell Juliet first and we called her and told her the result of the DNA test. Before the test was done, she said she would cry for the rest of her life if the test result turned out negative but would cry for joy if it was positive. When the result came out, my husband told her and she requested that the result should be sent to her and my husband did that.
How did her foster mother react to the result?
When we asked her (Juliet) what she would do next, she told us not to worry, and that she would handle it. She sent the result to Mrs Agulanna (her foster mother), and the woman called her family and informed them about the development. They started calling my daughter (Juliet) and abusing her. One of her (foster mother’s) sisters called my daughter and asked her if she wanted to repay Mrs Agulanna with a DNA test after taking care of her for 20 years. They also told Juliet not to go and alleged that we forced her to undergo the test, but my daughter said no. They told her to go to the village but she refused. Another one, who lives abroad, called and started laying curses on her.
Are you privy to the conversation?
I listened to the conversations because I was there with my husband. So, my daughter told us that her foster mother was sick, that she didn’t want anything to happen to her, and that she would talk to her. That is why she sent the test (result) to her.
Did you and your husband honour her appeal?
I agreed and suggested that we report to our parish priest so that he would call her (Mrs Agulanna) so that we would settle (the matter) amicably. My daughter also agreed. My husband and I went to the parish priest and explained everything to him and showed him the DNA test result. The priest called Mrs Agulanna and told her about the development, that there was no gain in making trouble and that it was good that we settled the matter amicably since we are one family in Christ and members of the same parish.
What did Mrs Agulanna say?
The woman said she didn’t know what he was talking about but said she would call me. So later that day, she called me and asked me if I was accusing her of stealing my child? I said no. I told her to tell her husband to take the DNA test and that if the result came out positive, I would accept it. We were just waiting for her to come, but did not know that she was in Enugu. One Saturday morning, we were saying the rosary when I saw a police car parked. As God would have it, my husband was in the church that day. Immediately after I saw the woman (Agulanna), she now pointed at us. The policemen told us to come and we met them. The policemen said they had a report against us at their station at PRODA by Sunrise Estate.
So, we followed them and didn’t prepare for anything. When we got to the station, they told us to write a statement. I stated everything I told you – that I didn’t know that I had a twin baby. My husband wrote his statement and thereafter they said we would go to Abuja. I told my family and some neighbours to come to the police station. So, we followed the policemen in a Sienna vehicle to Abuja. When we got to Abuja, we met the officer in charge.
What did the officer tell you?
He asked me why I took someone else’s child for a DNA test. I told him that she (Juliet) came to me and requested it and she is 20 years old and an adult. He asked us if we had a place to stay and a family friend came and took us to their house. When we returned to the police station in Abuja, they told us to go home. So, we returned to Enugu.
You mentioned earlier that Juliet told you that her foster mother claimed that she was born a month before your son was born…
She is lying. I am the mother of the girl (Juliet).
She also demanded a paternity test to determine whether your husband is the biological father of your son and another test to confirm that you are Juliet’s mother. What is your reaction to that?
I am ready for any kind of test. They are my children. Nzubechukwu is my son and Juliet is my daughter. If they are in doubt, we can go for a DNA test.