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Stolen Baby Scandal Takes Unprecedented Political Turn 

By Ze Ekanga — While President Paul Biya is away in Europe enjoying the solitude of a blissful private holiday, an abusive human rights crisis with considerable socio-political significance has erupted at a Yaounde referral hospital and is creating more enemies than desired for the regime.

Vanessa Tchatchou: Mother of stolen baby

Security forces in Yaounde are trying to prevent the holding of a second popular march in just one week in front of the Yaounde Gynaeco-Obsteric and Paediatric Hospital, HGOPY in Ngousso where a 17-year-old mother is demanding hospice authorities to return her stolen baby.

A tight security belt has been erected around the referral hospital located in Ngousso to bar any protesters from the premises and to shield any inquisitive journalists from having access to the young mother, Vanessa Tchatchou, who has defied all sorts of pressure and stayed at the facility since the disappearance of her baby in August last year. Last Friday, a group of protesters who gathered in front of the tertiary health facility dressed in protest tee-shirts were dispersed by security forces.

Acting on orders from President Paul Biya, operatives from the State secret service outfit known as the General Directorate for External Research, DGRE have begun an unusual special parallel investigation to establish the exact circumstances under which Vanessa Tchatchou’s new born baby was stolen from an incubator at HGOPY on 20 August 2011.

The State operatives are literally combining intimidating tactics and judicial investigation approaches to squeeze information from the young student who has not been able to return to school since her baby was stolen last year. The findings of their investigation are likely to eventually inspire an administrative sanction from President Paul Biya who ordered the investigation, a security source told “Heads must roll,” our source mentioned indicating that there is more to the crisis than meets the ordinary eye.

Public disapproval on the gross degree of injustice meted against Vanessa Tchatchou heightened last Thursday after Communication minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary made a provocative declaration suggesting that Vanessa’s offspring could be a baby buried in Nkoteng, a Yaounde neighbourhood late last year. Coming to break a 6-month government silence on the affair, Tchiroma caused anger in many quarters with an impression that the young woman’s predicament is unlikely to be resolved.

Following Tchiroma’s remarks, Vincent Sosthene Fouda, an opposition politician whose candidature in last year’s Presidential election was rejected by ELECAM issued a public mobilisation call for action on Internet. “We can no longer keep our silence for this battle is just and noble,” Fouda implored in his statement. “I know we can restore justice if we strongly engage ourselves today. Let us raise the battle cry to push for the search and location of this baby,” he called on Cameroonians.

During the weekend, media talk show focussed enormously on the unfortunate situation faced by Vanessa Tchatchou during the past 6 months at the hands of a negligent government and a hostile hospital administration that is keen on safeguarding its image. Charles Ateba Eyene, a regime disciple who is better known for criticising his own, said Tchiroma’s outing did not answer any of the burning questions raised at the moment about the issue.

“He did not satisfy the worries in the minds of Cameroonians,” Ateba Eyene said saluting the bravery of Vanessa to have put up such an unyielding fight against the injustice in our country. “This is the kind of example that youths of this country should copy if we must cleanse this nation of the many injustices people suffer,” he said.

For many, the theft of Vanessa’s baby in a public hospital outfit is one out of thousands of similar circumstances suffered by Cameroonian families. But the young woman’s exemplary bravery has made her case exceptional. Vanessa’s premature baby was stolen from a highly secure incubator at HGOPY shortly after birth on 20 August 2011.

Despite being discharged from hospital, the young woman persisted with an indefinite strike action calling on hospital authorities to give back her baby. Despite a complaint and initial investigations by judicial police agents in the Yaounde V subdivision, no reasonable solution was brought to the problem. Vanessa’s plight was brought to public attention last month by private French language daily Le Jour.

The matter has since drawn attention from diplomatic, judicial and administrative authorities. Unfortunately, government only waited for this much exposure to comment on the matter, observers deride. While Public Health minister Andre Mama Fouda has remained conspicuously silent on the matter, Social Affairs minister Catherine Bakang Mbock declared two weeks ago that no baby had been stolen. Following Tchiroma’s comments, there is public suspicion that Vanessa’s baby is in the keeping of a female magistrate who allegedly ‘adopted’ her at the Yaounde Central Hospital on 13 August 2011.

The adoption papers in question were signed by Minister Catherine Bakang Mbock. Judicial investigation requirements that a DNA test be performed on the adopted baby to cross-check with Vanessa’s genome have been rejected by the magistrate. “The real solution to this problem is to take the baby in the magistrate’s keeping and hand it over to Vanessa,” Vincent Fouda declared on Sunday. “I have no doubt that it is her baby. 


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